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Year(s) In Review

In November 2019, Kolaj Magazine announced the creation of Kolaj Institute with a mission "to support artists, curators, and writers who seek to study, document, & disseminate ideas that deepen our understanding of collage as a medium, a genre, a community, and a 21st century movement." In that announcement we set forth a number of initiatives and then got to work. Not four months after our announcement, COVID-19 happened, time collapsed upon itself, plans changed, we adapted. Here we are, over two years later. We thought it would be a good time to offer a comprehensive report on what we've done and where we are going.

Before we get into it, here are some quick numbers. Over the past two years, we have published 8 books and produced two weekend-long events and over twenty virtual programs. We also produced ten workshops, residencies, or artist labs that served 136 artists, to whom we granted $32,120 to remove financial barriers to participating.

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Congrains shared some of his early research at a Kolaj LIVE Online event. See it HERE.

COLLAGE FELLOWSHIP

Latin American Collage

In January 2020, we began the year with a Latin American Collage Fellowship with Kike Congrains. What was intended to be a six month fellowship where Congrains would investigate the history of collage, profile contemporary artists, and report on collectives, events, and galleries throughout Latin America, due to the nature of the pandemic, required a slower approach and is now reaching its conclusion at the end of 2021 with a collection of essays to be turned into a book in 2022. MORE

DIRECTORY

International Directory of Collage Communities

In February 2020, we launched the International Directory of Collage Communities, a survey of artist groups who are coming together around collage. By documenting and mapping these communities, Kolaj Institute works to develop a picture of the collage movement: how collage artists are working together, how they are diffusing collage, and what challenges they face mobilizing an art community. Over the past two years this directory has continued to grow and influence the direction and creation of other communities. MORE

BOOK

In October 2020, we published a printed version of the directory that features and highlights these communities and are planning an updated edition for the Fall of 2022 and every two years going forward. MORE

COLLAGE EVENT

World Collage Day 2020

In May 2020, we organized the third annual World Collage Day and it was our first real hurdle when dealing with the pandemic. Australian-Colombian artist Emma Anna was the year's Poster Artist. We asked artists to envision a different way to gather and celebrate and the community rose to the occasion, with several online events and mail art projects across the world. Kolaj Magazine released a Special Edition of the magazine that included a postcard packet from Emma Anna. MORE

ARTIST LAB

Pandemic Artist Lab & August Artist Lab

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, in June 2020, we partnered with with Tulane University Special Collections on four weeks of workshops and discussions designed to foster the integration of history and contemporary art into an artist’s practice and to develop artwork that speaks to the effect of COVID-19 on society. We had so many qualified and interested participants that a second lab was held in August that responded to the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and a new wave of racial reckoning. Thirty artists attended the two labs and Kolaj Institute made $11,600 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating in these programs. Pandemic Artist Lab | August Artist Lab

SPEAKER SERIES

Kolaj LIVE Online

In response to COVID-19 and the postponement of the 2020 edition of Kolaj Fest New Orleans, we created Kolaj LIVE Online, a series of virtual programs in the form of forums, panels, workshops, artist talks, studio visits, and other activities that allowed people to come together, learn and talk about collage, and connect in real time to the collage community. Kolaj LIVE Online saw over 500 unique participants attend a dozen virtual events that took place between July and September 2020. Since then we have continued to organize Kolaj LIVE Online events while also making the recordings of previous events available on our YouTube channel and our website. MORE

Under some protection (Bajo alguna protección) by Casandra Tola
7.4"x10.2"x1.9"; analogue collage in wooden box; 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

EXHIBITION & BOOK

Radical Reimaginings

In August 2020, Kolaj Institute teamed up with 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA to present "Radical Reimaginings", a virtual exhibition and book of forty collages by artists from nine countries and multiple Indigenous peoples. The voices of Black, Latino, Native, and white Americans mingle with those from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Canada, France, and Germany. Ric Kasini Kadour wrote in the introduction that collage, "by its nature, is the act of putting two things together to make a new thing. Collage artists spend their days poring over material culture, leafing through magazines and rummaging through books, for a spark of inspiration–an element of a picture or the rendering of a thing–and then they destroy the source, cut the thing out, and stick it on something else. It is a beautiful madness, but it is effective at making new ideas. It is important magic and powerful medicine.” MORE

WORKSHOP

Curating Collage

In October 2020, we teamed up with the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum of Art on a four-week program designed to train artists as curators. In six virtual meetings over four weeks and through ongoing, online discussion, artists explored the fundamentals of curating, how to create critical context for collage, and various strategies for presenting collage to an audience. Topics included art writing; gallery and museum issues; documenting artist practice; and working with art professionals. Artists curated each other's work and an item from the museum's collection. Twenty-two artists participated in the workshop and Kolaj Institute made $1,715 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating. The results of the workshop can be found in Kolaj 32 and Kolaj 33, as well as a series of Workshop Reports on Kolaj Magazine's website. MORE

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BOOK

Unfamiliar Vegetables: Variations in Collage

In November 2020, Kolaj Institute published Unfamiliar Vegetables: Variations in Collage, a collection of collage where each of the fifty artists interpreted, in their own way, Carlotta Bonnecaze’s 1892 Carnival float design Familiar Vegetables. Artists from North America, Europe, and Latin America responded to a call from the Mystic Krewe of Scissors & Glue. Individually, the collages reflect the work of independent artists and show a variety of approaches to appropriation or intervention. Collectively, the book offers many opportunities to consider collage as a medium, genre, and community. Project organizer Christopher Kurts observed, “Unfamiliar Vegetables is an experiment in controlled chaos…tiny variations within each artist’s creative sphere accumulate until the outcomes are as unique as the people creating them.” MORE

 

SUSTAINABILITY

Silver Scissors
& Golden Glue Societies

In July 2020, Kolaj Institute announced the creation of a membership and subscription program for those who wish to support the work of the institute and while receiving a piece of the collage community to their mailbox each month. Members of the Silver Scissors Society and the Golden Glue Society receive a subscription to Kolaj Magazine plus two additional items each quarter. Items will include publications from Kolaj Institute, collage prints, or other items. The support of members of these societies have been critical at helping Kolaj Institute serve the community. MORE

ARTIST LAB

New Mexico Artist Lab

In April 2021, we organized an Artist Lab with Art Meets History, Albuquerque Museum Photography Archives, 516 ARTS in New Mexico. The Lab looked at how our divergent histories of race, conflict, and colonialism inform how we imagine our futures. Participating artists worked from their own people’s history, to confront that history, and to imagine a future that offers justice, fairness, and support for all people. A goal of the lab was a proposal for a body of artwork that was considered for a group exhibition at 516 ARTS in 2022. The exhibition will give audiences an opportunity to consider how our contemporary discourse is a product of multiple histories in a constant state of negotiation with one another. Twenty-six artists attended two labs and thanks to a grant from 516 ARTS and the support of members of the Silver Scissors and Golden Glue Societies, Kolaj Institute made $8,925 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating. MORE


This Little Piggie or No Qualms at the Trough (detail) by Mark Wagner. 40”x30”; currency on panel; 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

EXHIBITION & BOOK

The Money $how: Cash, Labor, Capitalism & Collage

Kolaj Institute teamed up with Artdose Magazine to present "The Money $how: Cash, Labor, Capitalism & Collage", a collage exhibition at Saint Kate–The Arts Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA from April 10 to September 12, 2021. The exhibition took guests on a tour of late-stage capitalism. Each artist in the exhibition used collage to unpack ideas about money and its influence on our culture. The artworks spoke about Black wealth, immigrant remittances, and how mid-20th century advertising informs present-day attitudes. Artists collaged dollar bills into flowers and mined material remnants to tell stories about home economics. MORE

A companion book to the exhibition was published in July 2021. MORE

EVENT

World Collage Day 2021

In May 2021, we saw the fourth annual World Collage Day reach parts of the world it had not before, with events on almost every continent. We saw 74 events in 22 countries, some live and some virtual depending on pandemic conditions where they were taking place. MORE

2021 World Collage Day Poster Artist

In January 2021, we opened a call to artists for World Collage Day Poster Artist and thanks to our contributors we were able to offer a $500 stipend to Colombian Collective Red Collage who made that year's poster. Red Collage wrote, "Collage has become a creative vehicle that unites us today around the same idea and that combines disparate pieces, reinvents them and then turns them into new actors in the stories. Collage is a way of life for us." MORE

Declined by Amanda Lynch
6"x8.3"; collage on paper; 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

RESIDENCY

Money Money Collage Artist Residency

In June 2021, we brought together a group of artists to learn about collage and illustration by working together to interpret Eleanor H. Porter’s 1918 novel, Oh, Money! Money!. To illustrate the book, ten artists learned from guest speakers about collage and illustration and then worked collaboratively to make sixty-three collages that interpret Porter’s novel for a 21st century audience. Christopher Kurts served as art director for the project, led collage making sessions, and facilitated the collaboration. Heather Ryan Kelley spoke about “The Midden Heap Project” in which she made a collage in response to each page of James Joyce’s Finnegan's Wake. Jeanna Penn spoke about how she uses collage to interpret historical material including her project “Souls of Black Folk” collage series inspired by W.E.B. DuBois’ seminal book where he sets out to “have briefly sketched…with loving emphasis and deeper detail, that men may listen to the striving in the souls of black folk.” Nancy Bernardo spoke about collage as illustration, the visual essay she contributed to the book Deconstructing Brad Pitt, and how collage artists can engage with the marketplace for illustration. Ric Kasini Kadour presented a theoretical overview of collage, shared “The Money $how” exhibition, and facilitated the discussion of Porter’s book. Kolaj Institute made $1,450 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating and helped underwrite the costs of bringing the book into print. MORE

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Make This Possible!

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to Kolaj Institute today!

Thank You!

BOOK

Oh, Money! Money!
by Eleanor H. Porter

Illustrated by a collective of collage artists.

In Porter’s 1918 novel, a Chicago multi-millionaire struggles to decide to whom he should leave his money. As an eccentric experiment, he schemes to give his three distant cousins one hundred thousand dollars each to see how they handle the windfall. The book is a time capsule of early 20th century American life with a strong focus on the lives of women and observations about material culture and communities before the rampant consumerism of the 1920s and the Great Depression. In telling this story, Porter gives us a look at the role of and attitudes about money that remain relevant today. The book raises important questions about the role of money in our lives: What good is money? Is money cruel? How should one handle money? How does money change us?

To illustrate the book, Kolaj Institute organized a residency that brought together ten artists who worked collaboratively to make sixty-three collages that interpret Porter’s novel for a 21st century audience. MORE

EVENT

Kolaj LIVE Milwaukee

Friday, July 30th, 2021 to Sunday, August 1st, 2021, artists, curators, and writers gathered for a weekend of collage making, slideshows, exhibition visits, and storytelling that deepened our understanding of collage as a medium, a genre, a community, and a 21st century movement. Speakers shared how they approached collage making, used vintage materials, made tiny collage zines and postcard poems. We heard about San Francisco Bay Area collage artists, decolonization in the diaspora, and the history of the Situationist International. A panel discussed how they move from analog to digital to analog in their art making. On the Sunday of the event, participants joined a Collage Scavenger Hunt at the Milwaukee Art Museum. We did all of this while caring about the safety, health, and wellbeing of all who attended. MORE

Street Life by Simone Löhndorf. Courtesy of the artist.

RESIDENCY

Collage as Street Art Residency:
Letting the Art Find Its Own Audience

In July 2021, we began our Collage as Street Art Residency, in which fourteen artists learned about the history, methods, and major artists of the “street art” movement with a particular emphasis on collage while also taking their own collage out into the streets. The process and the work was documented by each of the artists. Leading the residency was Lance Rothstein, aka FANCLUB 13, who has been creating street art for over twenty years. Fourteen artists participated in the residency and Kolaj Institute made $2,230 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating. A forthcoming book about their work will be released in early 2022 with the support of members of the Silver Scissors and Golden Glue Societies, who will automatically receive a copy. MORE

EXHIBITION & BOOK

Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream

In August 2021, Kolaj Institute partnered with Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival in County Offaly, Ireland, on an international collage exhibition. Each of the eighteen artists–from eleven countries–in “Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream” used the photograph, The Square, Parsonstown by Robert French (1841-1917) from the Lawrence Photograph Collection, to imagine a monument that speaks to a world where all people enjoy safety, security, well-being, and dignity on their own terms. The exhibition of twenty-one works debuted at the 53rd Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival where it won a 2021 National Heritage Award.

On November 7th, 2021, the project was the subject of a panel at Kolaj LIVE Knoxville at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Tennessee, USA, which will present the project in exhibition, January 4th to February 19th, 2022. An article about the project appears in Kolaj 34. In January 2022, Kolaj Institute will release a 140-page book about the project. MORE

the brownest eyes by Jordan Fobbs
14"x11"; paper collage on canvas; 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

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RESIDENCY

Politics in Collage Residency

In September 2021, twelve artists joined us for the Politics in Collage Residency with the goal of helping collage artists who are creating social/political work, or who are interested in doing so, to grow and expand their practice. In fact, we had such a high level of interest in this residency, along with numerous qualified applicants, that we ran the residency for a second round with thirteen more artists in November.

MORE: September | November

Kolaj Institute made $4,600 in grants to remove financial barriers to participating and helped underwrite the costs of bringing the book into print.

The work that is coming out of these residencies will be published in a book and exhibit at Kolaj Fest New Orleans 2022. MORE

Supporters of Kolaj Institute
Make This Possible!

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PUBLICATION

Tissue Box: A pandemic response

Boite à mouchoir: Une réponse à la pandémie

In the Fall of 2021, Kolaj Institute worked with Virginie Maltais of Québec Collage in Montreal to present their pandemic project as a bilingual book. In Spring 2020, as the world was going into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maltais felt a deep need for a point of reference. Her solution was a project that asked collage artists from around the world to make a collage using the top of a tissue box. "Small projects are important. When you start and manage to finish something, you regain your courage and hope. But, really, there is no such thing as a small project. Big projects are made of many small steps. Step by step, we move forward. Together. It was all of these small steps, together, that led to the creation of this book." MORE

EVENT

Kolaj LIVE Knoxville

Friday, November 5th to Sunday, November 7th, 2021, we convened Kolaj LIVE Knoxville at the Knoxville Museum of Art, the site of the exhibition, "Under Construction: Collage from the Mint Museum". Participants toured First Friday Knoxville. Mark Vargo debuted his project, Identiblocks: Portrait #001. Christopher Kurts ran a "Collage Confessional". Presenters spoke about how collage sorts identity, discussed collage as feminist practice, and explored how collage is taught at universities. Todd Bartel led an Uncollage Tour of the museum. Artists shared various techniques. Kelli Bodle, Assistant Curator at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida, introduced us to the work of 20th-century collagist Salvatore Meo. On the Sunday of the event, we all exchanged collages in the Great Collage Swap. MORE

Supporters of Kolaj Institute
Make This Possible!

Click here to make a donation
to Kolaj Institute today!

Thank You!

BOOK

transitional MOMENTS: restoring equilibrium through the art of collage

In November 2021, Kolaj Institute worked with the Arizona Collage Collective to publish selections from a project in celebration of World Collage Day, May 8th, 2021. The volume includes one hundred collages selected from over 2000 submissions created from 600 collage packets sent to artists around the world for World Collage Day 2021. The collages were selected by Arizona collage artists Andy Burgess and Janny Taylor and the volume was compiled by Suzanne Winkel. Winkel writes that the book “reflects our current state of uncertainty as we wrestle with feeling constrained, disoriented and suspended in air between what was and what will be. Yet these thresholds, unsettling as they are, can be spaces of great creativity and transformation.” MORE

What's Next?

Kolaj Institute continues to grow and develop. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to delay some projects that we are excited to return to in 2022. These include a Collage in Motion Fellowship with Laurie O'Brien and the creation of a directory of collage in motion. We also plan to reschedule the New Orleans Collage Lab to March 2022. And we plan to bring forward some books whose publication timelines were disrupted. Here some more good things that are coming soon:

ARCHIVE

The Kolaj Institute maintains an archive on collage artists and receives materials such as exhibition announcements, catalogs, and other material generated by the artist's practice and makes these materials available to researchers, writers, and curators. The Archive will manifest in a number of ways as a physical and digital archive. Artists may deposit physical and digital documents into the archive by opening a file with the Institute. Kolaj Magazine Artist Directory will become the primary online gateway of the Artist Archive. The institute also operates directories that gather information about collage artists, projects, and communities. MORE

BOOKS

Kolaj Institute publishes books that document and diffuse ideas that deepen our understanding of collage as a medium, a genre, a community, and a 21st century movement. Books are often outcomes of residencies, fellowships, and other projects. Books from the Kolaj Street Krewe and Politics and Collage Residency are in progress, as is a publication of Kike Congrain's work on Latin American Collage and a capstone to the Schwitters' Army Project. Later in the year, we plan to announce a process through which individual artists and collectives can submit their publication ideas. SEE PUBLICATION HISTORY

RESIDENCIES & WORKSHOPS

We have learned a lot from the artists who participated in residencies, workshops, and artist labs. They have shown us what is possible when you bring a community together and set about the work of exploring ideas and learning new skills and then applying those skills to a project. In 2022, we are planning residencies on Poetry and Collage, a return to Politics and Collage, and a project that interprets the Stewart-Swift Research Center collections to make art for an exhibition at the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vermont. We are working with MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland on a series of in-person programs there if the conditions of the pandemic permit. Other programs are in development as well. Check out our Artist Development Programs HERE.

EXHIBITIONS

In January 2022, the exhibition of "Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream'' will open at the Knoxville Museum of Art and on January 29th, 2022, curator Ric Kasini Kadour will speak about the project at the official book launch. In February 2022 at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the first of two exhibitions produced as a result of the New Mexico Artist Lab will open. The second exhibition will open June 2022.

EVENTS

World Collage Day 2022 will take place on May 14th, 2022. Initiated by Kolaj Magazine in 2018, we invited artists and art venues to hold events on that day to celebrate collage. World Collage Day is about artists connecting across borders against a global context of entrenchment and separation. A Call to Artists who wish to be featured in the Special Edition will be released in January. Kolaj Fest New Orleans will return June 15th to 19th, 2022. This multi-day festival & symposium is about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society. A Call for Artists, Papers, and Presenters will be open in January.

SUSTAINABILITY

Kolaj Institute survives and thrives on the support of the community. Kolaj Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Antenna, a New Orleans-based 501c3 non-profit organization with a fifteen year history of providing direct support to artists & writers. Your donation allows to Kolaj Institute to take root and to create opportunities for artists, curators, and writers working to deepen our understanding of collage, art history, and the role of art in our communities. Together, we are building an organization that can serve the international collage community and document and preserve the legacy of this 21st century art movement. DONATE TODAY!

THANK YOU!

About Kolaj Institute

The mission of Kolaj Institute is to support artists, curators, and writers who seek to study, document, & disseminate ideas that deepen our understanding of collage as a medium, a genre, a community, and a 21st century movement. We operate a number of initiatives meant to bring together community, investigate critical issues, and raise collage’s standing in the art world.

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