The making of “Madonna & Child OR Re-parenting My Inner Child”, series 3. by Mary Bogdan.

Mary Bogdan

Thanks so much, Lars, for that beautiful welcome, I really appreciate it. I’m thrilled to be joining this quickly growing, enthusiastic group of mixed media art aficionados.

I wanted to write a bit about my process in creating the 13 pieces, called “Madonna & Child OR Re-parenting My Inner Child”, series #3, which were meant to be sent to the 9th International Collage Exhibition and Exchange in New Zealand. Upon completion of the series, I had some reservations about sending them. The point of the exchange is for artists from all over the world to exhibit and exchange works with one another, which would have meant that my pieces would be gone from me forever. I am not one for letting my art go too easily, if at all. But that is fodder for yet another article. I gathered all my internal strength and decided to send the works, only to discover that due to strict New Zealand laws about the importing of plant and organic materials (in order to protect their own plant life), my works would be stopped at the customs entry point because I used dried leaves, parsley, twigs, hibiscus bloom, etc., in many of my collages. “Fair enough”, I thought, as I jumped for joy (on the inside). I cannot send them, so I’ll just have to keep them, and try again next year with a different series and without the plant material.

Here are a few thoughts about how I went about conceiving and creating this series of thirteen.

I originally started with a very large image (see above), measuring approx. 70 inches x 17 inches, which I composed in Photoshop, in several layers. This would divide up into the images needed for the thirteen collages. I combined the digital art images from the Madonna & Child Or Re-parenting My Inner Child, series no 1 and series no 2, which I had made earlier and which had just been on exhibit at Arts Sutton, Québec.

The next step was to print out this very large digital art creation on archival watercolor paper, then, cut them down to size, all 10 inches x 8.5 inches. Now, I had thirteen separate pieces to have fun with, (not that the previous step wasn’t fun). I took them to my studio and after laying them all out, started the collage work. At first, I intuitively felt that they all needed a pouch or envelope of some sort, with other smaller objects inside of them. I proceeded to scrounge around my studio for appropriate objects. Please remember that I am a great gleaner, and have hundreds, if not thousands of items that I’ve collected over the years. And so I used a few of them: little bits of paper, plastic pouches, an old american express credit card, valentines heart doily, stamped envelopes, my husbands old driver’s license, parking receipt stubs, rotary club membership card, bubble gum wrapper, tea bag wrapper, museum entry ticket, human hair (my own), doctor’s prescription slip, twigs and leaves, Hershey’s chocolate bar wrapper, wine bottle foil wrapper, ribbon, laundry tags, coupon slips, and more. Then came the more irreverent objects. The pages torn from the bible, Hebrew scriptures, dictionary, poetry books… All items that have come into my life, and were collected over many years. All rich with symbolism and meaning.

I painted and glued these items over the original digital art printouts, and together the two (old and the new) worlds collided to form a rich, full world of their own.

After completing all thirteen collages in one, very long, sitting, I left them alone in my studio. When I returned a few days later, I saw that they had dried, but were quite crumpled and curled, no doubt from all the paint and gel medium. Unhappy with their physical appearance, and after much thought (and several sleepless nights) about what to do, I proceeded to use an iron to flatten them out. This was a fantastic experience, because some of the papers burned a bit and lots of the plastic pouches also burned and opened up to reveal the inside contents. Thus the creative process continues, as one never knows what’s going to happen, exactly; and that’s the thrill – the relinquishing of control, and the willingness to give oneself up to the process of creation.

31.jpg 32.jpg 33.jpg 34.jpg 35.jpg 36.jpg 37.jpg 38.jpg 39.jpg 310.jpg 311.jpg 312.jpg 313.jpg

So, what we see above here, as thumbnails, are the final series of 13 collages, after much layering, creating, ironing, and finally, pressing under a large stack of very heavy art books (Tàpies, Clavé, Rauschenberg, Cornell, Johns, Twombly, Dine, Nevelson, Herms, Christo). After couple of weeks, they flattened out beautifully, and gained a very rustic, ancient look about them. I was very happy.

And so, over a span of a few weeks, and many different stages, this work revealed itself to me, through its many transitions and transformations, to its ultimate… transcendence.

To see the final 13 collages and their earlier stages in larger format, click here.

Wonderful to read your story behind the work, Mary! I have so much – where to start – okay, at the beginning – I was reflecting how your experience of “sending” off these collages to be exchanged is in itself a parental act – as well as one we all encounter when we realize that we have left behind our childhood forever. There can be alot of pain in that, as well as relief. Creating artwork that we love and sending it out can have its… challenges, depending on how we see ourselves as artists. Not unlike the question of how we see ourselves as parents – nature vs. nurture is one such dynamic…

Also, I was wondering about the hardware you have to use to work on such large collages – 17in x 70in at, perhaps 600dpi? On my machine that would be quite unwieldy!

I was struck by the difference in color between Series No 1 and Series No. 2: series one seems to breathe more, and makes use of brighter colors – almost neons. Series 2 seems darker, more dense. Is there a reason for this?

Love the imagery of these collages being pressed beneath the heal of an iron, as well as beneath the stout bindings of great artists. I work on wood panel, and often use a sander to even out surfaces. I’ll have to try the pressing technique some time!

Finally, each time you use the words “glean,” “gleaner” and “gleaning” I am reminded of the character in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, who obsessively collected bits from his life and kept them stored in little plastic bags. The film did a nice job recreating his little shrine to the history he was living.

Cant wait to read more!

wow! yes, I see that about being parent to my creations, and that it can be very hard to “let-go” of them. It certainly is for me. And I guess, I feel like holding on to them, instead of sending them off into the world because they are a part of me, my child-like quality, or my innocence, or vulnerability… it can become very deep.

Hardware? well, we (my husband and I), own a graphic design firm, crayon design & communication, and the hardware is a part of our work life as well as our “art” life, so, I do have at my disposal, the best and latest software and equipment… and that’s just one of my many tools.

Yes, series one and series two are very different, as they were created quite a few months apart… different times, different person. Someone did bring to my attention at my last exhibition, that series one shows an inside or open book in each case, and series two shows the outside or cover of the books. I found this very surprising, as I had not noticed it before… and it just means that I work intuitively, and that the observer often brings something to the table and is a participant in my creative process… We are all connected.

Iron: yes, this was the first time I used an iron in this way, a creative tool… that’s the way I see it.

Yes, everything is illuminated is a great, great movie and I just loved it. It hit home for me! Yes, I’m very much like the main character in the movie, I collect bits from my life and then through my art, I illuminate parts of my life, and discover myself, and in the process I move through things, release and heal… Art is cathartic!

  • mbogdan says:

    wow! yes, I see that about being parent to my creations, and that it can be very hard to “let-go” of them. It certainly is for me. And I guess, I feel like holding on to them, instead of sending them off into the world because they are a part of me, my child-like quality, or my innocence, or vulnerability… it can become very deep.

    Hardware? well, we (my husband and I), own a graphic design firm, crayon design & communication, and the hardware is a part of our work life as well as our “art” life, so, I do have at my disposal, the best and latest software and equipment… and that’s just one of my many tools.

    Yes, series one and series two are very different, as they were created quite a few months apart… different times, different person. Someone did bring to my attention at my last exhibition, that series one shows an inside or open book in each case, and series two shows the outside or cover of the books. I found this very surprising, as I had not noticed it before… and it just means that I work intuitively, and that the observer often brings something to the table and is a participant in my creative process… We are all connected.

    Iron: yes, this was the first time I used an iron in this way, a creative tool… that’s the way I see it.

    Yes, everything is illuminated is a great, great movie and I just loved it. It hit home for me! Yes, I’m very much like the main character in the movie, I collect bits from my life and then through my art, I illuminate parts of my life, and discover myself, and in the process I move through things, release and heal… Art is cathartic!

  • -->

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.