The Stuff We Use & How We Use It at Kolaj Fest New Orleans

Comp Posed 3 by Ben DiNino
11″x8.5″; vintage starlet, fashion model, and pin up photos; 2021. Courtesy of the artist.


The Stuff We Use & How We Use It

with Ben DiNino, Mackenzie Reynolds, Kate Chassner & Lisa Gostev


Kolaj Fest New Orleans is a multi-day festival and symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society, 7-11 June 2023. Visit the website to learn more, see an overview of the program, and register to attend.

How do collage artists source their materials and, more importantly, what decision making process do they use to identify those materials. How do aesthetic decisions reconcile with ethical and moral values in one’s practice? In this session, four collage artists will make presentations and lead a discussion about material sources.

Ben DiNino will present an abbreviated version of his essay, “Reconsidering Source Material–An intended Life disrupted”, where the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based artist will survey the history of collage art and discuss the conceptual ideas attached to source material; how it affects the work and changes the meaning; and how this can broaden the context in which viewers see collage. DiNino will consider these ideas in light of his own art practice with the goal of inspiring others “to think more closely about sources and try to venture into new conceptual territory with what they use in their collages.” His essay will appear in a future issue of Kolaj Magazine

from the “In Isolation” series by Mackenzie Reynolds. Courtesy of the artist.

Mackenzie Reynolds is a Digital Imaging Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections where she manages the photography studio and works to create accessible collections that inspire artists. She is also an artist whose collage work uses cultural heritage photography. Reynolds will present her own work and speak about Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) and how the program is establishing best practices for working with digital images. Reynolds will also touch on practical considerations of workflow and quality control. “Artists everyday look at all different types of digital collections and find themselves exploring Archives online to source materials for their artwork. It is important for artists to understand the standards and concepts of high quality digital images.” She writes, “I would love to understand what others may be looking for in digital collections when it comes to source materials. There are a large amount of resources online and I would love to connect with artists and discuss what inspires them.”

We Burst (from the poem “Americana”) by Kate Chassner
11″x8″; magazine images on paper; 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Kate Chassner uses found images and home photos to create collages. “I am curious about the connection we have, as a society, to lost memories and traces of human histories. In my work I am thinking about memory mishaps, when our mind recalls only part of a story, and we are then called to fabricate the rest.” The Asheville, North Carolina artist writes, “I am currently exploring how collages and quilts (specifically from the South, as it connects to my background) are connected as a way to represent a beautiful gathering of individual parts that create a cohesive whole.” She will speak about her practice and how collage is in dialogue with other artforms. 

And I Ride and I Ride by Lisa Gostev
8″x9″; Color-Aid collage; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, now an Assistant Professor of Art at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Lisa Gostev uses Color-Aid paper to compose her collage works. She writes, “My desire is to arrange my memories and strong visual impressions as motifs to compose from. I draw and work with nature as a starting point and greatly enjoy the abstractness of my observations. This process of working with color-aid collage is about finding progressions and movements of shapes and looking at constructed light for color keys and temperature shifts. Initially, my artwork is designed abstractly, where the final image is one realized through the process of composing color and the act of play. My process of working is one of discovery, where the image is defined by my unconscious impulse and emotion–the final image is a product of realization through the sifting and ordering of color and shape.” Gostev will speak about how she draws inspiration from painters like Henri Matisse and how using color-aid paper informs her artmaking.

Kolaj Fest New Orleans is a multi-day festival and symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society, 7-11 June 2023. Visit the website to learn more, see an overview of the program, and register to attend.