The Book of Cranes

The Book of Cranes 4 by Estelle Roberge
8.25″x14.25″; collage and giclée print including decorative papers by Pam Smith and Loretta Lowman. Courtesy of the artist.


Estelle Roberge: The Book of Cranes

at the Charles C. Thomas Gallery at the Maine College of Art & Design in Portland, Maine, USA
5-30 September 2023

Estelle L. Roberge on The Book of Covid: Unbound and The Book of Cranes:

“Like many of us, because of the pandemic, I spent much time alone, and because I became more cautious of my social associations, I intensely missed human interaction. As an artist, it became difficult to focus on painting and I experienced various states of panic. But because I practice book binding, I had an empty textblock in my studio and began to make collage entries, a visual diary that became an essential part of my artistic practice.

The process of making a collage involves cutting and recutting, measuring, tracing, drawing, coloring and pushing various colored and patterned papers on a surface. As I became more deeply involved in the collage process, a calming element emerged and I began to overcome that underlying sense of panic. I found myself entering states of quietude and tranquility, even though everything around had seemed to fall to pieces: jobs, schools, hospital care and most of all the enormous loss of life. Images in the collages began to reflect my experiences of isolation, of memory and melancholy, of hope, and of nature.

The Book of Cranes 9 by Estelle Roberge
8.25″x14.25″; collage and giclée print including decorative papers by Pam Smith and Loretta Lowman. Courtesy of the artist.

I worked for hours at my studio table, examining and re-examining compositional arrangements, yellow juxtaposed to red, orange juxtaposed to patterns of violet and green, areas of marbled paper, repeated patterns and textures. The content included my observations of wildlife at a nearby bird refuge which I frequented. I found myself drawing birds, photographing them, especially cranes and images of dancing cranes emerged. Slowly, I felt a renewed sense of well being. I traversed between inner voices and outer observations when frequenting the nearby refuge. When I returned home, I felt uplifted, like having visited a friend.

Along with observations and gestures of birds in flight, I read The Birds of Heaven, Crane Music, and watched numerous films of cranes. Thus, two artist books evolved: The Book of Covid: Unbound which led to The Book of Cranes through which I found balance and creativity during a very insecure time.”

This exhibition is presented In Memory of Philip Stevens.

(text adapted from material provided by the artist and the gallery)


Charles C. Thomas Gallery
Maine College of Art & Design
522 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101 USA
(800) 639-4808

Friday, 8 September 2023, 5-7PM and then by appointment only. Email for more information.