This past summer I had the opportunity to teach a collage class. This four week workshop sponsored by the Brooklyn Collection and AMMS (the Arts, Media, Music and Sports Division) was open to anybody of any age and skill level, from accomplished artists to absolute beginners. The overarching theme was "What I like about Brooklyn." To get things started we looked at the wonderful collage panels of Romare Bearden called "The Block," his homage to Harlem. Following in Bearden's footsteps, our intrepid group, which ranged from ages 8 to 80, was soon ripping and cutting up magazines, newspapers and copies of historical maps, photographs, City Directories, colored paper, etc.
The result is a selection of provocative and personal artwork and that reflects the diversity and color that is Brooklyn. It's on display now in our exhibition cases in the Brooklyn Collection on the second floor of the Central Library and can be viewed during the Collection's open hours (Tues and Thurs 1-7:30, Wed and Sat 1-5:30, Fri 10-1).
Our first collage, by octogenarian Rioghan Kirchner depicts the vibrancy of her favorite locale -- Eastern Parkway, in Prospect Heights. She colorfully depicts the motley crowd that congregates along this grand boulevard. With the Brooklyn Museum as a backdrop she shows the array of young and old and Caribbean and Hasidic culture, in a kaleidoscope of urban life.
Rosa is passionate about the Brooklyn's cultural expressions, from the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and all the sounds, songs, and visual art to be found around the borough.
It was inevitable that the Brooklyn Dodgers would loom large in someone's work. Leonard drew on his childhood memories of sneaking into Ebbets Field to fashion a collage dedicated to da bums and their devoted fans.
Jordan LOVES Brooklyn pizza, and could eat it EVERY DAY if his mother let him. He's tried about every pizza shop in Bedford Stuyvesant, Park Slope and Prospect Heights. I know, 'cause as his Mom I've had to take him there. Our most recent excursion was to Saraghina's on Halsey Street in Bedford Stuyvesant. The Pizza Margherita was scrumptious, and when I asked Jordan how it was I all got back was "nom, nom, nom". He has yet to visit the legendary Totono's in Coney Island, or Grimaldi's in Dumbo. (By the way I had such a craving for Grimaldi's pizza when I was seven months pregnant--with twins no less--I hopped my round-bellied self onto the B25 bus and... wait a minute....it all makes sense now...) At any rate, Jordan chose to create his ode to pizza incorporating the familiar red and white delivery box.
BFF's Ruby and my daughter April collaborated on this collage of old and new Brooklyn. Ruby loves old-fashioned long dresses with bows, while April is drawn to anything prefixed by the letter "i-". Rather than creating conflict, these differences underpin their ability to appreciate Brooklyn's rich history while embracing it's future.
As befits her calling as an educator, Andrea is very much concerned with child abuse, domestic violence, and the cycle of poverty that affects so many in our neighborhoods. The gray background literally torn from phone books and newspapers serves as a contrast to the young woman whose pain is as intense as fire.
When I was a teenager one of the first poems that made an impression on me was "Alabama Poem" by Nikki Giovanni. The first line "If trees could talk wonder what they'd say" stuck with me my entire life and nurtured my love of and respect for trees. One of the nicest things about working here at the Central Branch of Brookyn Public Library is that Prospect Park and the Botanic Gardens are so close by. It is easy to take a lunchtime respite from a busy day and walk among the still, old, towering giants. "If trees could talk, I wonder what they'd tell me..."
Maria was fascinated by the streets of Brooklyn, and how they were named. Employing an old map and a TON of research her collage is loaded with information.
Monique's favorite things about Brookyn are the playgrounds and parks. Her collage, so happy and filled with the innocence and exuberance of children at play just puts a smile on your face.