“But What Does It Mean?”

'You can run but you can't hide."
“You can run but you can’t hide.”                Molly Larson Cook

This past week I was subjected to the question many of us hope never to hear about our work:  “But what does it mean?”

My collage work is generally abstract.  I’ve been doing more painting and less pasting recently and the more I do this, the more abstract things become.  But even when I’m using images in the work – cut, pasted, pasted over, pieces of this and that – the work never approaches realism.  In fact, I look at the collages the way I look at dreams – recognizable objects, people, words, places – juxtaposed in odd and unexpected ways.

They’re like the dream about your grandmother when her kitchen table turns into a swimming pool and your granny is really Esther Williams who swims away while your car gets stuck on a mountain of ice and the telephones don’t work no matter how hard you try to talk to the Dean of your college.  Like that.

So I was reluctant to take on the question, but when I did I learned some things about my work that I had not known before.  It was a little like E.M. Forster’s line:  “How do I know what I think ’til I see what I say.”  I don’t know that my work is “about” anything.  Maybe this is because I’m still a fledgling artist or maybe it’s because I like what Sam Goldwyn said about motion pictures that wanted to be more than motion pictures:

“If you want to send a message, call Western Union.”

So far, that works great for me.

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