It was an experiment unlike any the University of Washington had ever seen.
On Tuesday, July 9, more than 50 Huskies—faculty, staff members and students alike—met up at the HUB to spend an hour dissecting old magazines in exploration of the process of making cut-and-paste paper collage. Coined by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the beginning of the 20th century, the term collage describes an art-making technique in which an assemblage of different forms are combined to create a new whole.
Led by The Whole U’s Matthew Leib, the workshop provided materials and a framework for making fine art pieces or vision boards that encapsulate and articulate dreams and goals. Participants said they found the exercise regenerative and relaxing—a chance to exercise creativity, stretch their imaginations, and connect with others as well as themselves.
“The opportunity was inspirational,” wrote Laura-Beth Straight of UW Pediatrics. “It is a tremendous gift to have an hour to be expansive and playful. The format was efficient. Matt was encouraging and enthusiastic. Having everything so organized made it easy to use the full hour for creating. Definitely one of my very favorite hours of this week! Thank you to The Whole U for contributing so much to our work lives here!”
“I signed up for the event to spend time with a colleague who I don’t get to see much and I was very surprised at how fulfilling the activity turned out to be,” wrote Sylvia Artiga Monreal, Associate Director, Learning & Development, Advancement Human Resources. “Sometimes I don’t think I have the time to be creative or to practice an artistic skill, but this was exactly that and I think I only spent 30 minutes there.”
“This was such a fun event and illustrated how just one hour can juice creativity and perk up flagging energy,” wrote Alyssa Rae Deutschler, Online Reference Services/Information Science Librarian. “I was seated with a few colleagues, but appreciated chatting with others from around campus (poring over magazines and clipping out random pages really encourages conversation). Please offer this again!”
“Matt was very encouraging and positive and set things up for us perfectly, but he also was very hands-off and didn’t want to get in anyone’s way,” wrote Emily Keller, Political Science and Public Affairs Librarian. “It was a great way to meet folks from around campus and a great brain break to work the other side of my brain. It was energizing and charged up the rest my day. It was good to have a limited palette and limited amount of time so that I couldn’t get in my own way too much. I would do this quarterly!”
“I got inspired by the workshop,” wrote Greta Hewitt, Program Coordinator/Interpreter at UW Medical Center. “I have checked out a half a dozen books from the library on collage, and I have started collecting pictures, paper, etc. in the hopes of experimenting with collages on my own.”
After the workshop, we asked participants if they’d like to share the stories, process, or meaning behind their cut-and-paste creations. Read what 12 had to say below and then browse the full album on our Facebook page!
“I didn’t sit down with any particular meaning in mind, but I was drawn to images that reminded me of home. I grew up in Glendale, Arizona and I love the desert and its aesthetic–harsh but very beautiful. [The workshop] prompts were so helpful as I put it together; especially the suggestions to turn images upside-down and cut some into abstract shapes.
—Sylvia Artiga Monreal, Associate Director, Learning & Development, Advancement Human Resources
“I tend to be drawn to bright colors and bold patterns, so I just tried to turn off my left brain and let myself gather what I found attractive. [My] pile of bold, colorful images naturally meshed together with some tearing and arranging. The important thing for me was to keep my internal editor and judge on the sidelines and just let that glue stick fly.”
—Emily Keller, Political Science and Public Policy Librarian, UW Libraries
“I came to this workshop looking to scratch a creative itch and without much more of a clue on what to do. [Matthew] encouraged us to start thumbing through magazines to see what might inspire us. I started seeing mountains and sunshine and books and food. All of my aspirations for summer came together in this collage. It was a great time and I smile every time I see it. I have been out hiking, reading books and of course eating good food ever since!”
—Maureen Ni, Program Coordinator, UW Depts of Lab Med and Pathology
“My collage includes saguaro cactus, desert colors, and other images reminiscent of the Arizona desert, which is where I grew up. One of the images includes couples getting cozy at a lookout point, which reminded me strongly of my high school days. This piece evokes emotions of where I came from and my coming of age.
“My process was quick, because I only had a limited time to be at the workshop in order to get back to work on time. I relied heavily on my intuition when selecting images that seemed to go together. I thought it was interesting that the first image I chose was one that I didn’t end up using in the collage. It didn’t match the theme that had developed when I put my other images together.
“The workshop was a very rewarding way to spend my lunch hour. I am always looking for ways to be creative and intuitive in my life, and this was an ideal activity for me. I went home and added a few finishing touches on my collage. Now that it’s completed, I will probably gift it to another desert-lover.”
—Janine Cipolaro McKenzie, CCC-SLP,
Speech-Language Pathologist, UW Medical Center
“These are places and images that both calm and inspire me – mountains, water, sky. At the bottom is an image of a tropical beach, which represents a vacation I’m looking forward to. If you read the book Blue Mind, you will learn that even looking at photos of water provides significant benefits!”
—Judith Wood, Senior Instructional Design Project Manager / Academic Excellence, UW Continuum College
“I’m so excited about what I created and how I created it! It took just a little over an hour to create something that I’ll certainly hang on my wall at home for longer. Thank you for the materials, the encouragement and the reminder that creative expression doesn’t have to take hours or days or create a giant mess.”
—Laura-Beth Straight, UW LEAH Program Coordinator, Division of Adolescent Medicine
“I call this collage Colors in Nature. I love blues and purples but appreciate the oranges and pinks and greens we see in the world around us every day, in every season. Color is so powerful: it effects our emotions, warns us, warms us and inspires us!”
—Chris Pennington, Safety Analyst and Certified Safety & Health Specialist, UW Facilities – Facilities Employee Safety (FES)
“The meaning behind my piece centers around interpretations of the text shown: ‘A debate is raging over how to save the masterpieces.’ Different sides are at odds with each other. On one side, we see a diverse collection of human portraits in austere frames experiencing different emotions; of different ages and ethnicities; and from different time periods. On the other side are examples of causes of human suffering. The most blatant example is in an expensive-looking frame. However, to some people, those examples are the masterpieces worth saving. I think the piece prompts us to ask ourselves some questions. What do we value? What do we want to protect? Is human life more precious than weapons of war, big industries, or money? The human side is dynamic, moving in the cycle of life, while the other side is left static.”
“I try to attend The Whole U’s events occasionally because it’s a great opportunity to sign up with a friend for a lunch-time activity together. The collage workshop was perfect for chatting time while we cut and glued. My collage started with a classic scene from an art magazine of pigs lolling in a river, which I thought was kind of funny in itself, then I added a couple modern items, and finally a chicken in a frame just because it was empty space and I really like chickens.”
—Jeanette Henderson, Executive Director, UW Real Estate with UW Facilities
“In my collage, I represent what prosperity and abundance means to me. When I started, I didn’t have anything in mind, I just cut images and words that got my attention. I enjoyed the process of putting the pieces together and I like the result. This is a great exercise to explore your feelings and vision of what you love or want in your life.”
—Edith Olguin, Department Operations Specialist, Department of Communication
“My thought in coming to the workshop was to create an inspirational piece for my office that would remind me to stress less about the future and to instead reflect on and appreciate all of the beauty around me. I find all too often I go through my day on autopilot. My personality and job tend to be rather analytical, so this was a great opportunity to set ‘process’ aside and just spend time browsing through magazines to see what caught my eye. I was amazed at how quickly the time passed and really happy with the piece I created. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tap into the creative side of myself that I have never really felt existed.”
—Mary Schweikl, Program Administrator, International & Academic Programs, UW Continuum College
“It’s based on the concept that one day there will be peace again throughout the earth, man and nature living in harmony.”
—Angela Roberts, Administrative Specialist, UW Police Department
Stay tuned for our next collage/vision board workshop. Check our events page once Fall quarter gets underway!