New Orleans Collage Artist Lab: City as Archive is a five-day intensive of workshops, discussions, and collage making designed to foster the integration of history and place into a collage artist’s practice.
The Lab takes as its premise that the urban landscape can be viewed as a sort of archive with which artists can draw from, not unlike a material archive maintained by an institution. Literary critic Michael Sheringham spoke about the city as archive in a 2016 interview. “Many archives combine all sorts of matter; some of it vitally important and a lot of it just stuff, dross, repetitious bumph. But the other crucial ingredient is the idea of the archive as a process, something that takes place by virtue of the activities of compilation, preservation, juxtaposition, accumulation and so forth, that actually make archival space—at least potentially—active and dynamic. It’s the archive as a dynamic process that combines heterogeneous timescales, scrambles origins and mashes up elements from different horizons. That is what is exciting to us today…So, to think of a city as an archive is to think in terms of dynamic process, restless motion, multiple chronologies and levels of meaning.” Approaching the urban landscape in this way is fertile terrain for collage artists who seek to incorporate a sense of place into their practice.
During this Lab, artists will tour New Orleans with an artist lens and develop strategies for drawing from the city material for their art making. Morning presentations will be followed by afternoons of collage making. Artists will explore working big by collaborating on a large-scale three-dimensional collage sculpture that will debut at Kolaj Fest New Orleans, 7-11 June 2023. After the Lab, artists will be invited to submit 3-5 collages and a statement for inclusion in a book of collage about New Orleans that will be published by Kolaj Institute in 2023.
The goal of the New Orleans Collage Artist Lab is to equip artists with tools and strategies for picking up the unfinished work of history and speak to contemporary civic discourse around social, economic, and environmental issues. Through interactive sessions, collections research, and collaborative collage making, artists will explore their process and practice; present a slideshow of their work; receive supportive, critical, curatorial feedback about their ideas; and discuss contemporary issues. The Lab will speak to issues of appropriation, copyright, and fair use and explore how the artist’s choice and understanding of material shapes the narrative of the artwork. Artists will leave the Lab with a new perspective on their art practice.
New Orleans Collage Artist Lab is intended for self-motivated artists, regardless of the stage in their career, who want to develop a practice of working with archives, place, and history and speak to their community about contemporary issues.