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Building Collage

Opening Gallery Talk: Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 at 5:00-6:00pm


Building Collage explores the medium of collage as a powerful device for design thinking, with potential to shape studio production and professional practice. For this exhibition, co-curators Carey Clouse and Sandy Litchfield call attention to collage as both a method and medium for design practitioners to extend the boundaries and potentials of their work. Building Collage not only leverages the interests and strengths of the Design Building community, across faculty, student cohorts and staff groups, but it also marshals the department’s interest in interdisciplinary design thinking.


Claire Dannenbaum (Eugene, OR)

Claire Dannenbaum is an artist and librarian in Eugene, Oregon. Her art work has been exhibited in multiple solo and groups shows in the US. Previously, Claire worked in film and her film work has screened internationally. She has participated in many public panels, won a few awards, and has films in university media libraries on both coasts.

Statement: "Through my art work I explore the conceptual life of books. I appreciate the static form of the book and see that — despite the corporatization of information and narrative — the codex continues to provide a rich surface for reflection and rearrangement. My work is born out of deep attachment to and reverence for the book form (perhaps the most ingenious, mobile, transferable, humanistic, and renewable technology ever devised). I use multiple means of deconstruction, reordering, excavation. I use collage in particular as a technique to explore the world as narrative. Each of us experiences a reality that is shaped by specific stories, textures, vantage points, and lived knowledge. The collage technique is the most authentic way I have found to communicate that complexity. I also continue to be enthralled with the book form as a source of pleasure and endurance in the digital age. As a librarian, I engage with information in all kinds of formats—and with an array of content and purpose —day in and day out. Using books as both matter and material is a way for me to excavate my own intellectual life and bring it to light. I thumb through, re-read, and ponder. And in that processing, I encourage a slow consideration of the written word: language being the ultimate abstraction. None of my work in Building Collage is explicitly text-based, but it, too, is born of similar processes of deconstruction, layering, and association."

Carol Keller (Amherst, MA)

Carol Keller is an artist living and working in Western Massachusetts. She is a Professor Emerita of Art at Amherst College. Solo exhibitions of her work include those at Nielsen Gallery in Boston, Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery in Brooklyn, Danforth Museum of Art, Miami University, Montserrat College of Art, and Dartmouth College. Her work is represented in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Rose Art Museum, among others. She is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, residencies at MacDowell in New Hampshire, the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland, and the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy.

Statement: "Collage is the primary format of my current studio work. It offers me a way of discovering “characters,” structures and spaces within a composition without having anticipated them. I only begin to recognize the structures I am making through the act of building them. Most rewarding is when a newly added element suddenly turns the larger piece on its head. It is a moment when the work may begin to gain some independence from me. My process then involves not only making formal decisions, but also negotiating an ongoing encounter with the piece itself."

Jen Simms (Gill, MA)

Jen Simms is an artist living and working in Western Massachusetts. She is a professor in the Art Department at Greenfield Community College. Simms studied at the San Francisco Art Institute (Interdisciplinary Studies, BFA, 1997) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Painting and Installation, MFA, 2004). She has exhibited her work throughout New England, including the DeCordova Museum, the Fitchburg Art Museum and the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Simms has received numerous grants, such as the Blanche E. Colman Award, Visual Arts Sea Grant and the Artists’ Resource Trust Grant. Residencies have included the Dune Shack Fellowship in Provincetown, Massachusetts and the Open Studio Residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

Statement: "I use weaving, drawing and collage methods to create spatial constructions that help navigate and make sense out of the world around me. The compositions are maps of sorts, responses to personal and civic concerns. The work is usually not grounded in one perspective, allowing the space to shift and morph, creating an intuitive game to find one’s way. The spaces are metaphors for communities that change over time in some way, often blending rhythms from natural and manmade environments. They also represent an interior scaffolding of the self as I change and map my own journey through a radically changing world. My work is also very material-driven and process-oriented which amplifies the sense of an existential search embedded within the abstractions. The works relate and build off of one another, in the same way that the continuum of life is a series of cause and effects. In the end, the work is purely an archive documenting my attempt to understand the complexities of space as it relates to the awkwardness and beauty of human existence."

Jill Stoll (New Orleans, LA)

Jill Stoll’s commitment to art and design has manifested in many creative adventures. After earning a BFA from the University of North Texas, she designed window displays at the corporate headquarters of Neiman Marcus in Dallas. When it was time to bounce, Jill moved back to her home state of Michigan to pursue an MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. With those credentials in her back pocket, she did what many artists with big dreams do: she moved to New York. At first, in what felt like been-there-done that, Jill worked freelance display jobs at Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, and Barneys. Fast forward to now, she is a Lecturer at Tulane University School of Architecture. Her teaching has taken her to places as diverse as New York, West Texas, and Rome.

Statement: "In my New Orleans-based studio, I navigate between what I can control and what I can release. Exploring issues of location and dislocation as interpreted through my lens-based and mixed-media pieces, I endeavor to translate both the poetry of the familiar and power of place by intersecting new and old technologies. Often a meditation on history, geography, travel, and landscape, I attempt to reorder the built and natural worlds through collage. The work occupies the space where the handmade and the digital overlap."