Going Back to Collage

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on March 29th, 2023

One of my favorite parts of working in the education department at the Woodson Art Museum is developing hands-on projects. In addition to my role as curator of education, I am also a working artist, so creating and learning new artistic processes is second nature to me. I am even more eager to create at the Museum when there’s a chance to explore my favorite artistic medium: collage.

Collage is the combination of different cut-out papers, textiles, photographs, and various materials arranged and adhered to a surface. While some collage techniques can be traced back to the invention of paper in the 10th century, most are familiar with it being popularized by modernist artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Having connections to movements like Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, collage became widely used in the 20th century and beyond, eventually becoming adopted by artists as a technique that could be applied to mediums like photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, and design.

Collage created by German artist Hannah Höch that features photographs and imagery in sepia tones depicting various people, objects, and text in an all-over composition.

Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany, 1919–1920 (Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin), collage, mixed media

The Museum’s current exhibitions, Nature Made Strange and Cultural Currency, both include a selection of artworks made from collage. Nature Made Strange, an exhibition of surrealist artworks from the Museum’s permanent collection, embraces the unexpected artistic portrayals of wildlife and landscape through the lens of the subconscious, unconscious, and dreams.

A Joseph Cornell collage that features two birds in the left half of the composition collaged on top of images of clouds and foliage.

Joseph Cornell, The Storm That Never Came, 1971, mixed media collage, featured in Nature Made Strange

Fellow educator Catie Anderson and I took inspiration from artists like Mark Wagner, Fracesca Pastine, and C.K. Wilde while developing an Art Kit that prompts audience members to craft their own currency collage. All three of these contemporary artists are featured in Cultural Currency, on view now through June 4, 2023. They utilize money as a material to cut and layer into intricate, conceptual works of art that challenge notions of power, value, and labor. Pick up an Art Kit to try collage for yourself, using the fake money, stickers, and paper provided.

A self-portrait made out of U.S. currency by Madison-based artist C.K. Wilde.

C.K. Wilde, $elf Poor Trait, 2003, currency collage

Looking for more opportunities to cut and paste your ideas into a collaged artwork? Madison-based artist C.K. Wilde uses international currency to reimagine recognizable cultural imagery and will be sharing his perspective and processes during an upcoming residency April 13-16, 2023. Offering a Mini Workshop on Saturday, April 15, 1-4pm, C.K. will focus on connecting to community through collage by encouraging participants to embrace themes of identity, place, and history in collage creations.

I look forward to observing and exploring various collage processes, being motivated by artworks from Cultural Currency and Nature Made Strange. I will continue to experiment with collage in my own studio practice as well, by finding solutions to visual compositions through cutting and pasting.

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