FROM KOLAJ 32
How can we do better sharing collage with the rest of the world?
Kolaj 32’s Editorial by Ric Kasini Kadour
While putting together this issue of Kolaj Magazine, I was simultaneously working with Artdose Magazine’s publisher Frank Juarez to curate the exhibition, “The Money $how”, that is on view at Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel in Milwaukee from April 10th to September 12th, 2021.
“The Money $how” is the third exhibition I’ve curated that was exclusively collage. The focus of the first one, “Revolutionary Paths” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans in 2018, attempted to address the dearth of curatorial thinking about collage. I wrote in 2018, “The history of 20th century art is littered with examples of artists who cut and pasted their way into artistic advancement. Collagists are creating innovative artwork and large gestures; sought-after illustrations; and marketable work that speaks to people. Art publishers churn out books that celebrate collage. An enthusiastic community of artists is organized online, forming active collectives, and holding popular meetings. And yet, when the collage is presented in exhibition, it is often done so without the critical framework granted other mediums.” Each of the artworks in “Revolutionary Paths” stood as a point of departure for further curatorial inquiry, a potential starting point for an exhibition, if you will.
The following year, I curated “Cultural Deconstructions” at LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans. About that exhibition, I wrote, “By its nature, the creation of art is the construction of culture. In paintings, sculptures, and illustration, artists build ideas about the world around them. Photographers, through framing and composition, tell stories about the world that inform our thinking of it. Collage is unique as a medium in that it uses as its material artifacts from the world itself. To harvest those fragments, the artist must first deconstruct culture; they must select, cut, and remove the elements they do not wish to use and then reconstruct work that tells a new story. The exhibition features collage artists who are deconstructing identity as a way to critique culture.”
“The Money $how” is different in that this exhibition seeks to put collage in action; in service to our civic discourse. Each artist in the exhibition uses collage to unpack ideas about money and its influence on our culture. Artworks speak about Black wealth, immigrant remittances, and how mid-20th century advertising informs present-day attitudes. Artists collage dollar bills into flowers and mine material remnants to tell stories about home economics. This exhibition takes viewers on a tour of late-stage capitalism. The COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional underscore to the damaging effects of income inequality and unchecked capitalism. People have been forced to labor under untenable and unhealthy conditions to survive. Suddenly, what was impossible—trillions of dollars for social welfare and wellbeing—flowed from government coffers. Money is not the root of all evil but how we think about money is behind a great deal of cruelty and unnecessary suffering.
I often find myself saying, Collage is powerful magic. The collage community often feels like we are off in our own private corner of the art world. We excel at sharing that collage magic with each other. How can we do better sharing it with the rest of the world?
Kolaj LIVE Milwaukee is a real time manifestation of Kolaj Magazine and Kolaj Institute, Friday, July 30th, 2021 to Sunday, August 1st, 2021. Kolaj LIVE Milwaukee is based in The Arc at Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel, the site of “The Money $how“, an exhibition that uses collage to unpack ideas about cash, labor, and capitalism. LEARN MORE.
“The Money $how” was co-curated by Frank Juarez and Ric Kasini Kadour and features artwork by Max-o-matic (Barcelona, Spain), Michael Koppa (Viroqua, Wisconsin), Gavin Benjamin (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Mark Wagner (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), Patricia Leeds (San Rafael, California), Carey Watters (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Paola De la Calle (San Francisco, California), and Terie Leicht (Fredonia, Wisconsin). Learn more: