AT KOLAJ FEST
Exquisite Corpse with Mary Behm-Steinberg
Mary Behm-Steinberg has lived a quantum existence of overlapping lives within this one so far, including as a fair trade importer of folk art and antiques; an international non-profit administrator; failed former city council candidate; current City Homeless Commissioner for the city of Berkeley, California; and perpetual artist and sometime experimental musician. “I live a magpie life, which lends itself to collage as a medium,” she writes.
Behm-Steinberg’s collage are dark, stormy affairs. Female figures meld with sea creatures. Framed in thick black lines that fade like a cloud around the image, they are evocative of old, odd photographs. Other collage incorporate texts. “My collages are a map through my subconscious, both in terms of process and content. As a person with multiple disabilities, I live in an alternate reality of how to make desire, physical limitations, and necessity coalesce into something beyond mere adaptational survival into a thing of wonder that even in its sometimes (absurdly) tragic moments, transcends to a bizarre crescendo of wisdom, joy, and mystery,” writes Behm-Steinberg. “I work with a variation of automatic writing in images, which I come by through free-associating on literal, aesthetic, metaphorical, and allegorical levels. I then combine and recombine until I have completed the circle and associated back to the original image or concept.”
Behm-Steinberg’s approach to collage is like a witch working a spell to reveal a truth. “Layering images of contradictory truths as a narrative, sometimes using actual words in ‘quasi-calligrams’, opens up new possibilities that may never have come to fruition had there not been limitations in place,” she writes. “As such, the limitation forms a paradoxical conduit to continual discovery. In the tradition of memory palaces, understanding magically changes reality.”
At Kolaj Fest New Orleans, Behm-Steinberg will lead an Exquisite Corpse in the Collage Making Space while hosting a discussion about people’s collage processes and how an exploration of how surrealism has evolved in terms of the proliferation of available source material digitally and in its response to contemporary pressures..
As an attendee, she “looks forward to a lively collaboration and exchange of ideas and techniques, as well as the opportunity to meet artists whose work I admire in person. The lovely thing about events such as this one is that you never know what you might discover among other participants and their work. I like going with an open mind and, as with my free associative collages, seeing what comes next.”
About Kolaj Fest New Orleans
Kolaj Fest New Orleans is a multi-day festival and symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society, July 10-14, 2019. Visit the website to learn more, see an overview of the program, and register to attend. Kolaj Fest New Orleans would not be possible without the support of Press Street, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, LeMieux Galleries, Mystic Krewe of Scissors and Glue, Antenna Gallery, Kolaj Magazine and Kasini House. Kolaj Fest New Orleans is made possible through a generous gift from Laurie and Doug Kanyer. WEBSITE
About Mary Behm-Steinberg
Mary Behm-Steinberg has lived a quantum existence of overlapping lives within this one so far, including as a fair trade importer of folk art and antiques; an international non-profit administrator; failed former city council candidate; current City Homeless Commissioner; and perpetual artist and sometime experimental musician. She has been featured in group shows with Quiet Lightning, the Dusie Kollectiv, Chapel of the Chimes Garden of Memory, and most recently as part of a group show entitled “eVe: Exploitation v. Empowerment”, as well being the featured cover artist in many publications. She lives with her sometime collaborator, author Hugh Behm-Steinberg, in Berkeley, California.
Images (top to bottom):
Animation of flip book sequence for The Opposite of Work
by Mary Behm-Steinberg (with Hugh Behm-Steinberg, poet) JackLeg Press, 2013
Susannah and the Elders at the Aquarium
by Mary Behm-Steinberg
digital print on Moab Natural Rag