The concepts and techniques of collage underlie my work. I combine fragments of cultural and historical significance with segments of personal meaning to create collages on paper, stretched canvas and free-hanging fabrics. I have also installed large wall-mounted collages, walkable labyrinths and hung fabric and Mylar panels for site-specific projects.
As an artist and a scholar, I am inspired by the history of art and architecture, biological and ecological studies, as I seek to make material, symbolic and ecological connections visible.
Working increasingly with found and recycled materials, my recent work responds directly to the ecological degradation of our planet and to the risk of environmental and social collapse.
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This group of four collages suggests roses that are falling, unbound, in an indeterminate space. Begun during the summer of 2011, as the tenth anniversary of the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers approached, I was intuitively responding to our shared recollections of the horrific events of 9/11 and the chaos and confusion that followed. Beautiful though they may be, unbound flowers, dropping undone, impart a somber finality. Gravity.
These collages recall Baroque paintings of angels showering martyrs with roses from heaven at the moment of their greatest suffering before death – the moment of “passion”. Even a decade later, I could only obliquely envision the horror of those who jumped from the Towers, and solemnly honor their memories.
“Everything Will Be Back”
Created during the early months of Covid 19 outbreak, the title of this sewn collage refers to the return of “everything” that we have missed during the pandemic lockdowns, while also acknowledging that there are institutions, practices and viewpoints that we don’t want to have back again.
Commercial packaging materials, bright plastic bags, printed paper wrappers and shiny aluminum foils were machine sewn and quilted onto a large free-hanging fabric, suggesting the scale and comfort of a traditional quilt while also appearing chaotic and contingent.
Abstract in its overall composition, the layout of this collage emphasizes the downward cascade of disposable wrappers initially used to pack and ship foods such as chocolate, coffee, oranges, and avocados. Imported from distant continents – and former colonies – we are reminded that our detritus will also come back to us.
Confined and secluded at home during the pandemic, we were thrown into an intensive domesticity to which the food products and sewing techniques allude. In a seeming contradiction to our feelings of isolation, we were in fact, all connected by the flow of goods, viruses and digital information around the world.
Artist Christina Stahr is interviewed by Art Historian Sylvia Laudien-Meo and Günter Maislinger