• Exploring Women Through Collage
  • Exploring Women Through Collage
  • Exploring Women Through Collage

Exploring Women Through Collage

Artist’s Statement

I depict women and women’s bodies–women, because of the thoughts and feelings we may express in our faces and bodies as individual people, and women’s bodies because of the way we look at them and make our own judgments mediated by society, sexuality and politics.

Part of my method is to use fashion images. I create cut paper collages using images from international fashion magazines of both women/women’s bodies (usually not the complete body, but a bust, torso, legs, etc.) and fashion/textile images, both color and black and white.

My goal is to illustrate the constant tension inherent in images of women and their bodies. Is the figure an individual with her own thoughts? An image beautiful to gaze at? A sex symbol in all its loaded political manifestations? Any given collage will suggest at least two if not multiple answers, and will often allow multiple interpretations to unfold over long examination. On a more subtle level, I examine hidden vs. open; confined vs. free; powerless vs. empowered; chosen vs. chosen for.

Very often, I’ll use images of women either heavily veiled as in a bride, or with revealing/hiding fashion net veiling hanging from her hat or stretched across her face. These also yield another layer of interpretation and ambiguity. An even more common theme is the corset: women with corsets; corsets as images; corsets too big to confine the body they envelop.

Aesthetically, I try to create a painting-like surface, supplying another layer of ambiguity to the already inherently ambiguous images, by using exclusively glossy, quality paper of the same weight, so there is no “mixed media” or “found objects” quality to the collages. In the imagery and in the titles, I often make reference to painters who focused on the image of women: Ingres, Sargent, Manet, Picasso. I also use the titles to create tension with the imagery.

In purely formal terms, I choose either monochromatic or polychromatic imagery, similar vs. contrasting shapes, and to contrast different textures, such as weights and weaves of fabric and plain vs. ornamented with sequins, studs or embroidery, or to maintain consistency of texture. The central image—the woman and her body—determines all these formal choices.

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Shaun Ross

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