Thanks to Create Magazine and guest curator Dasha Matsuurafor for publishing my work in their July issue as well as this little online interview!
How does using collage as your medium play into the ideas you try to get across in your art?
Collage is the perfect medium for memory themes as they naturally parallel each other in many ways. My work isn’t just about my own narrative – and thanks to the medium I am using both personal and random components to try and communicate a more collective perspective. These scraps and pieces themselves hold an entire history of their own. Then altering those pieces and layering them in fragments, I’m able to mimic the actual process of remembering – an incredibly inaccurate, shifting, and multifaceted act.
When did you decide on the color palette you are currently working in?
I’ve never really made a conscious decision as it seems like my colors chose me rather than the other way around. My palette has always been intuitive and hasn’t changed much in the past eight years. I’m typically inspired by soft pale brights but am beginning to add in some more bold elements when I feel bored with my own color habits!
What is the first thing you do when you sit down to create a collage?
I start with one piece I’m really excited about and start connecting things from there. My process is quite subconscious/ instinctive and since this can be difficult to pause, it’s not uncommon for me to finish a work in one sitting.
Is there anyone in particular who inspires your work?
So many! I’m largely inspired by the abstract expressionist painters of the 40’s and 50’s as well as many contemporary artists of a similar genre – at the moment Sarah Kelk, Bonnie Grey, and Sander Steins.
You mention your color palette has a lot to do with the idea of memory and the haziness of memory. Are there other aspects of your collages that play with the same ideas?
Definitely. Building up layers of transparency also help achieve this notion of haziness. The tracing paper elements act as faders, almost like partially erasing, or forgetting something.
Some of my work is currently up at John Hill Estate and Vineyard in Hunua – just outside Auckland – New Zealand. If you’re in the area, stop in for a peek and a glass of sauv blanc!
Last month, the brand new lovely folks at Half Mystic journal released their second issue and I was their featured artist. In addition to including a new 14 piece series about people & sorrow, they also interviewed me about my process, themes, and musical influences:
Issue II centers around the theme of Saudade: “the drifting photograph – the ache so tender-willing – the shards of bitter-soft yearning just before the fall.” What aches have taken up residence in your memory? How do they shape your art?
Most of my own aches are subtle and quiet, and many originated from childhood. A feeling of unbelonging in my hometown of Phoenix combined with my parents’ divorce and a mentally disabled brother often provided for a strangely isolated world growing up. I felt plain and unnoticed as a teen and my twenties were full of rather traditional heartache involving relationships, longing, and loneliness. I’ve been a melancholic person for as along as I can remember and all my experiences have largely shaped my interest in the randomness of loss, unresolved matters, and soft hauntings – all common themes in my work.
In what ways does memory shift in your work? In what ways is it constant?
Memory shifts in different forms of translation and recording – in how pieces are positioned and what shape everything becomes. There is always an abundance of ways to communicate non-linear concepts. Perhaps the only constant is that memory is never only one finite thing; it always consists of references, alterations and layers.
What songs have you found yourself returning to recently? How have they impacted your art?
In the last few years I have been listening to a lot of ambient music as I find it inherently compliments creating abstract visual work. The neutral drone sleepiness of sounds is a great atmosphere for examining memory from a collective and intuitive perspective. Some musicians I enjoy are: A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Rameses III, Rice Boy Sleeps, Nils Frahm, Cass., Kyle Bobby Dunn, and Julianna Barwick. That being said, I have always had a large affection for folk music and still retain a loyalty to the genre. Mark Kozelek is one of my all time favourites.
To expand on that: if your art had a ‘soundtrack,’ what five songs would definitely be on it? Why?
Sibylle Baier – Forget About
Goldmund – Ba
Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio
Sufjan Stevens – Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
Grouper – Wind and Snow
All these songs/artists carry some sort of personal history for me, but I also think they’re a good representation of both folk and ambient sounds that suit my work well.
How do you approach color in your work?
I’ve always been attracted to pale palettes and subdued tones, including the occasional bright for appeal. If there’s a section that’s too dark, I tend to lighten it using a layer or two of tracing paper. Everything else is instinctive using the options I have in front of me. People who know me well can testify that the importance of colour extends to most areas of my life, often affecting the silliest of decisions.
Typically, collage is thought of as a medium of juxtaposition, of synthesis. Does that influence the way you think about other forms of art—for example, music? If so, how?
Absolutely. I think juxtaposition and synthesis as aesthetic attributes can be applied to many other art forms – double exposures in photography being a good obvious example. My friend Peter, who makes music under the pseudonym Northern Loon, considers his songs as collages and they are a lovely expression of what I do visually. I’m also attempting to do similar things with memory in writing and video. You can read and see my attempts at lindowly.com
How does sound—musical or otherwise—figure into your artistic process?
Music is very important in the beginning stages of my process – the actual decision making of which pieces to choose and where everything goes. As there are no sketches or planning done ahead of time, these are the most exciting and tender moments of creation. It is an expressive act and sound helps guide this process naturally.
Much of your work seems to revolve around the idea of home. What, to you, does ‘home’ truly mean? Can art ever fully encapsulate that meaning?
I don’t think there is one true meaning for home; I think the concept shifts for each individual. It could be where you spent childhood, where you’ve built an adult life and community, or even someplace you’ve never visited but is in your ancestry and heritage. It doesn’t have to necessarily be location based either as home could be attached to a person, scent or general landscape. Maybe it is simply what’s familiar, or layers of all these things combined. For me, I think I will always associate some part of home with being raised in the desert. Pale colours and dry air. The saguaros, eucalyptus, dust storms. Since then, I’ve lived and traveled through so many places that I’ve emotionally needed to create tiny temporary homes as I go. It would be difficult for art to ever fully resemble the idea of home, being such a complex, varied, and personal subject matter. But I do think it’s possible to hint at it, and surely artworks attempting the topic would resonate varyingly for different people.
Linden Eller doesn’t like to stay fixed in one spot. The collage artist has lived in a lot of different places – New England, Europe, India, Australia, Samoa, New Zealand – and come January she’ll be packing her bags yet again. “I’m moving to Japan,” says Eller. “I have been greatly influenced by the works of Murakami, Miyazaki, Shintaro Ohata, Osamu Yokonami and many other Japanese photographers and artists. There is a general widespread aesthetic in Japan that I connect to and that I would like to learn more about, particularly concerning colour and common themes of nostalgia/memory. I’ve been curious about it as a place for quite some time.”
In Japan she’ll continue her collage practice, a medium, she says, suited to her transient lifestyle. “The materials are lightweight, not messy and constantly renewable. It’s a relatively new medium, and I find it exciting to be a part of the community exploring it. I think I’ve found an identity in collage, a distinct style that I struggled to create in other genres.”
Eller collages combine photographs, transparent paper, sketches, text and sewn stitches which swirl together to form a window into other worlds, moments and stories, so it’s apt she calls them “field workings of memory”. We chat to Eller about her hometown, inspiration and what she gets up to when not making.
Where are you from and what do you love about your hometown?
I spent my childhood in Phoenix, Arizona. I often felt out of place growing up there, but there are certain nostalgic elements that I’ll probably always attach to the idea of home – pale desert colours, saguaros, eucalyptus, dry air, dust storms, and the scent of rain mixed with earth. These are things I’ve learned to love.
What made you move to New Zealand?
I had been previously living in Australia and since New Zealand was just a hop away and I was still eligible for the Working Holiday Visa, I thought I’d come over and have a look around. I’m doing a lot of long-term travel at the moment, so any flexible opportunity to work in another country is a good one. Admittedly, I’ve always had a fondness for sheep, and actually ended up working in the wool sheds over here for three seasons!
Were you a creative kid? What did you used to make?
I mostly enjoyed drawing. I remember often being alone in my own world for hours at a time, whether I was making things or playing with toys, so I suppose I’ve always had a big imagination.
What’s your Achilles’ heel?
Probably taking on too much. I have an abundance of curiosities and so there are always things I’d like to learn more about or ideas I’d like to try. My lists are usually too long and I can often get overwhelmed.
What do you like to do when not making?
Travelling, volunteering on farms, hiking, gardening, writing letters, listening to music/podcasts, reading, watching films, cooking/baking, adventuring, playing, and going on lots of picnics.
What was the first piece of art that had an impact on you?
Joe Sorren has a big mural painted in Flagstaff, Arizona that I always adored, called ‘The Veridic Gardens of Effie Leroux’. Even though my work ended up nothing like his, I remember identifying with his palette and tender narrative elements. Another significant one was ‘Shepherdess With Her Flock’ by French painter Jean-François Millet. Rauschenberg and Rothko were also big early influences.
Whose work would you love to own a piece of?
Anything by Andrew Wyeth.
What will 2017 bring?
I will be doing an artist residency (and perhaps an exhibition) in Sapporo, Japan for February and March. Mainly I’d like to continue exploring the abstract world, as possibilities and growth seem infinite. Illustration has regularly been something I enjoy doing, and will probably continue to do casually or when opportunities arise. At the moment, I’m trying to be intentional about integrating my travels with what I’m making. It’s challenging and still remains a struggle, but I’m persevering. In that spirit, I’m currently piecing together an experimental project combining travel, geocaching, benevolence, the postal service, and custom memory collages. To be unveiled soon!
My collage (“and the whole world grew a forest for her”) was recently published in Collage Collective Co’s new book, “Green,” which you can purchase here : http://www.collagecollective.co/green
Included beneath the collage is this caption:
“I made this piece for my friend, Megan, who I associate a lot with the colour green. She had a dog named ‘Green’ and she always wore green coloured beads. The title is from an old book of poetry I was browsing through, an ended up writing in a birthday card for her one year. The idea of all these strangers collectively growing a forest for someone was so absurd and beautiful that I had to make a collage about it – a gift of leaves, lichen, and blurs of trees.”