After a career as a Flavor Chemist, and as a mother of two, I was longing for an outlet to express myself and relieve the anxiety of caring for an aging parent with dementia. On a whim, I took a collage class at the 92 Street Y in NYC and the minute I picked up a straight edge, I fell in love with the medium. In a short four years, I have had the opportunity to exhibit my work in over 20 group shows, including Brooklyn, NY; Chelsea, NY; Edinburgh, Scotland and Rennebu, Norway and have had solo exhibits in New York City and Northwestern Connecticut. My work has been published in numerous art magazines and in the newly released book “Collage By Women: 50 Essential Contemporary Artists”. In 2018, I organized and curated, @the_collage_garden NYC, an installation in the 6BC Botanical Garden in the East Village, that showcased collages submitted by artists from over 25 countries. I am currently a member of the instagram group, @thecollageclub, an exclusive group of collage artists who collage the same page of the same book each week. My most notable sale is to restauranteur David Bouley.
You can find me on Instagram @mixdmediamashup
Select pieces of work available on www.saatchiart.com/susanlerner
You discovered your love for collage at a time when you were in search for a creative outlet. How has your relationship with the medium progressed since then?
I discovered collage as a creative outlet from everyday stressors, including taking care of a parent with dementia. Since that time, it has turned into an absolute passion. I work on some aspect of collage almost daily. Technically, I began with photomontage, using my own photographs, but gradually developed into a style using vintage imagery and maps. I have recently experimented with 3-D collage and continue to explore new ways to learn about the medium and myself.
Can you expand on your process for us? How do you curate the images you collage?
My artistic journey is the process. I source vintage material by scouring flea markets and garage sales. I hunt for imagery in the viewfinder of my camera. I usually have an idea that I want to work on based off of one or two pieces of found imagery and go from there. Everything is hand-cut, layered and glued. It can get pretty messy but I try to sort out cuttings into categories and file them into envelopes. However, the chaos makes it interesting. I never know what I will find or create.
How long do you typically spend on a collage? Is there a preliminary stage?
I like to work on numerous collages at the same time so I can't quantify how long it takes. I usually have an idea in my head based on one or two images and then use material I’ve already cut out to free-play and create. If I get stuck, I move onto the next collage and go back to it later. This keeps it fresh and exciting. After everything is laid out for a collage, I take a photo. The trickiest part is to recreate the collage during the gluing process. If I make a mistake, it’s over because I only use original papers, no photocopies. I like that the material is precious and one of a kind. Once it’s used, it’s gone.
Your most recent series “All Over the Map” utilizes vintage maps. Can you share more with us about your choice to use maps?
The series “All Over the Map” developed from a love of cartography and travel. I had been wanting to incorporate maps within my collages since I started collaging. The maps are all about the connection to my past both literally and metaphorically. Maps were used before GPS was invented so they bring me back to my childhood of planning and taking trips with my family and hand cutting the images takes me back in time before computers and photoshop were a fact of life. I try to juxtapose images so the impossible seems possible. The process is both mediative and stimulating at the same time.
Do you have a piece of advice you have received that you would like to pass along to our readers?
My advice is to just go for it. Put yourself out there and take a chance. There is really no downside to exploring your creativity and sharing it with the world. You may even surprise yourself.