Monday, February 11, 2008

The Art of Personal Imagery

My Mom often passes along wonderful books to me and she has recently gave me the wonderful book, The Art of Personal Imagery: Expressing Your Life Through Collage by Corey Moortgat. It falls into the scrap-booking/collage/how-to books that has taken the craft world by storm. I have read many books in this category and I must say that Moortgat's approach is something special.

The kind of collage Corey features in her book uses a lot of vintage photographs, scrap-booking paper, and other found ephemera. It falls into a genre that is gaining immense popularity in the craft world (see Somerset Memories magazine) and unfortunately, all that kind of art work looks the same to me, so when I first glanced at the cover of this book, I thought, "Okay, more of the's a nice look, but what's new about it?" 

I am happy to say that when I opened up the book and started reading I was pleasantly surprised. This is far more than a basic how-to book, that encourages people to create something that looks exactly like everyone else's project. Corey shares her personal journey though art-making and because of that, it is unique and authentic and beautiful. Along with the very clear and informative how-to aspect of the book, she also tells the story of her life, and the two are beautifully woven together - in a way that I have never seen in a how-to book. She also breaks free of the "vintage photo ghetto" as I often call it, and starts using photos from her own life. And the pieces are just as beautiful and powerful as the other kinds of collage we are used to seeing.

In fact, every piece showcased in the book is a journal entry. Many of the pieces have personal writing in them and the art and the personal journey are woven beautifully together. She shares her struggle to get pregnant, and along with that story, we see the pieces she made during that time. I resonate particularly with this personal story as I too have been having my own roller coaster journey around getting pregnant.

Here is a quote from the book:
But after months without conception, the artwork took on a different tone. In Detained, phrases like "no baby this month" and "detained by waiting for something" show my state of mind. And An Inordinate Desire states, "Seems like every one of these I do starts the same way - another month with no luck," and shows a solemn girl pushing a baby carriage. Although these months weren't joyous ones, they were important and real parts of our story. These honest chronicles of our struggles make the pieces reflecting our eventual success that much more meaningful.
She does eventually get pregnant and then pregnant again!  It is very powerful to watch the art work change and transform as she now deals with the new roller coaster journey of pregnancy and motherhood - always creating truthful and authentic pieces that reflect her inner experience.

This book truly is a delight and an inspiration and I have noticed my art work changing already as I try out new techniques and ideas from the book.

I think it is a must-read for any collage artist interested in life as a transformative journey.

To get an immediate taste of Corey Moortgat's work, check out her wonderful flickr page and blog.

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