Katharine Schutta: On Collage

Posted by: Meg Duguid

Collage is, by definition, a pastiche of multiple sourced ideas fused to create something new. Collage is a sum greater than its parts. It is a collection of minuscule slices of the whole wide world, chosen randomly or carefully because, yes, they speak in some way to the artist’s soul. They transform into a brand new statement or aesthetic.

—Lorette C. Luzajic*

Katharine Schutta creates collages that diverge from the archetypal vision of collage as a delicate interlacing of images that create a narrative. Nor are her works referential to the surreal. Instead, they invoke a sense of the quiet absurd.

Katharine uses auction catalogs, nature magazines, and books to make works that are created from simple interventions. She makes just one or two choices about where the college is laid. Those few choices have a ripple effect that creates nine or ten complications for each image. At first her decisions feel formal, but what appears as a minimal rectangle dropped into a landscape, takes on a monolithic presence within the frame. Volcanoes spew monuments, like swim caps shroud ancient statues, landscapes are split vertically, and multiple horizon lines abound in single landscapes.

In Katharine’s work, Symbolism collides with Postmodernism. In each picture, plane structure takes over, and details of function are liberated from concept to the perception of visual field. Her acts of collage intervention almost could be considered acts of minimaling out landscape and figuration to create highly abstracted non-narratives where the formal crashes into the picture plane creating quiet ruptures. In each work the perfection of the cut suggests an invisible hand; yet with the act of shifting the visual field just so, the visible gives way to wonder.

Katharine uses structural forms to cut the pictorial structure off at the knees, leaving a certain absurd promotion of unstructure. It is this unstructure where contemporary art and art history, science, technology, and landscape are brought into collision.



* Lorette C. Luzajic, Book Review: Cutting Edges: A Few Reflections on Contemporary Collage, 2011

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