Something In the Water: Collage in Maine


In Issue 10 of Kolaj Magazine, Daniel Kany’s article “Something In the Water” surveyed the state of collage in Maine, USA. Kany said, “I am weekly art critic for Maine’s largest circulation newspaper; the significant art currents in the state are my bread and butter. And I couldn’t agree more with [Dan Mills, Director of the Bates College Museum of Art]: This year, what has bubbled up beyond all else is collage.” In 2014, shows with a focus on collage were mounted at the Bates College Museum of Art, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) and the Art Gallery of the University of New England. Collage was also prominent in the Portland Museum of Art’s biennial, “Piece Work”.

Kany wrote:

Maine is an important fixed point for art in America, historically, but its idiom has always been painting. It makes sense to consider the centennial of Cubism, the painting movement that set many major strands of modern art into motion…Cubism’s role in Maine art is often forgotten, but few artists had more sophisticated responses to Cubism than Marsden Hartley and John Marin who are are still revered by Maine artists…Because of this, Cubism and its modernist moment have always been in the toolbox of Maine artists. But, Maine has been steeping its own version of a broader shift in contemporary art. The execution of old-school conceptual art was generally perfunctory in the state. What we are seeing more and more is concept-driven art that values technique, process and craftsmanship. In its most complete forms, this work mobilizes the conceptual and technical content together to create a dynamic dialectic…While this year’s paroxysm of collage in Maine is clear enough to make one suspect a focused force behind it, a longer look and careful consideration leave us with the impression the 2014 collage tsunami is the result of the intersection of historical forces with contemporary currents.

This article originally appeared in Issue Ten. To read the entire article and other writing about the world of collage, SUBSCRIBE to Kolaj or PURCHASE ISSUE TEN.

by Justin Richel
oil and collaged gouached paintings on paper
Courtesy of the artist
This work was part of “Making a Whole New: The Art of Collage” at the Art Gallery of the University of New England, Portland, Maine, 26 June-28 September 2014