Collage Today: Four Artists and Their Stories

The word “collage” describes a two-dimensional work of art or the process of creating that work of art that incorporates found or altered elements, usually fragmentary, adhered to a substrate. The increasingly popular technique of collage speaks to the hectic pace and fragmented vision of our time. Joan Hall, Laura Breitman, Kitty Killian and Pat Street, whose works are featured in “Piecing It Together” by Jonathan Talbot, work with fragments — found papers and fabrics. Their life stories reveal the sometimes wayward nature of their journey toward collage.

Joan Hall
started out as a dancer, attending Pratt Institute and then Juilliard School of Music. Her surrealistic works often juxtapose classical and contemporary images to comment on women’s roles and lives. She has exhibited her collages and assemblages in galleries and museums around the world, including the Centre George Pompidou and the Museo Rufino Tamayo. The US State Department awarded her a grant in 2001 to travel to Mexico in order to train teachers who would transmit lessons in ecology and recycling by teaching children to create art out of found objects and scrap images. Hall teaches Collage at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She lives and works in her Greenwich Village studio in Manhattan.

Laura Breitman
majored in textile design at New York City’s High School of Music and Art. She also studied children’s book illustration and photography at the College of Visual Arts in New York. In addition to working in New York’s garment district as a textile designer and colorist, she has had odd jobs as a cabdriver and a welder. Breitman became a full time studio artist in 1986. Her collage technique—attaching slivers of fabric to a substrate in order to create highly latticed, intricate, representational illusions, is as labor-intensive as it is ethereally beautiful. Her work appears in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and abroad. She lives in Warwick, NY.

Kitty Kilian
, who is from Utrecht, Holland, started out as a journalist. As a collagist, she incorporates words into her designs. “Well-captured descriptions of feelings that I’ve read in books or newspapers or overheard in conversations can stay with me for weeks. If I love a quotation enough, I want to illustrate it,” she says. Kilian has shown her highly allusive works that combine psychological insight and good humor all over the world.

Pat Street
attended Brown University and then studied at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She now lives in Orlando, Florida. She gleans her materials from flea markets and antique stores. She attaches bits of ephemera to the substrate with acrylic gel medium. Fascinated by the Romany (gypsy) people, she often uses phrases cut from books to amplify the images she chooses to tell their story. Since 1997, she has been working in both traditional and digital collage.

To read the article, Piecing It Together, purchase the July-August issue here.


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