Going Big

Listen Up by Mark Murphy. Projection as part of “Out of Time” at the Blast! Festival, 24 May-29 June 2019. Photo by David Rowan.

A New Series and a Call to Artists

In its most basic state, fragments of printed matter glued to a substrate, collage is small. The immediacy and intimacy of the medium is one of its points of attraction, but these are qualities which, theoretically speaking, puts it at odds with the broader ecosystem of contemporary art which privileges big gestures and spectacle.

From installation work to mural making to simply creating large tableaux, today’s working artists need to be able to manifest in multiple ways in order to be successful in the current art world milieu. Large-scale or monumental work is one way artists make a statement and get noticed.

LIFE circa 1960 by Julia Nelson-Gal
72″x72″; vintage Life Magazines, acrylic, wood panel; 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Palo Alto, California artist Julia Nelson-Gal has experience working big, achieving scale by creating multi-panel pieces. She wrote, “Because of the nature of many of the materials collage artists typically use, we tend to make small- or medium-sized works,” writes Nelson-Gal. “But many artists have set examples of going big, including Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Bradford, [San Francisco] Bay Area artists Shem (Michael Shemchuk) and Mark Eanes, Efren Alvarez (who makes large-scale collages out of small fruit stickers) as well as Michael Garlington, whose large-scale, architectural wonders at Burning Man are covered in his own photographs. And others have begun to experiment with enlarging their work, such as Melinda Tidwell and Leigh Wells.”

Over the next year, Kolaj Magazine is publishing a series of articles that investigates the strategies and approaches artists use to go big, increase the scale of their work, and engage with the larger art world.

The first articles on this subject appear in Kolaj #28. We report on Mark Murphy’s “Out of Time” projections at the Blast! Festival in Sandwell, England and Wardell Milan’s billboard installation at DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Future articles will report on collectives collaborating on large work, a muralist using collage to fill a wall, and other stories.


We want to hear from you. Have you completed a large-scale project or body of work? What is your experience of going big? Have you made a mural or large scale work? Does the idea of large work excite or scare you? Send an email to info@kolajmagazine.com and tell us what you think.