The New York Studio School presents Attached, June 10 – July 14, 2019, an exhibition featuring works by Anne Ryan, a pioneer of the medium of collage and an early generation New York School Abstract Expressionist, with three contemporary painters whose work heavily features collage, Meghan Brady, Sarah Faux, and Melissa Meyer.
With Attached, curators Graham Nickson and Rachel Rickert present the range of possibilities collage offers and the enthusiastic embracement of this medium by serious contemporary painters.
Meghan Brady’s (b. 1975) two wall-sized paper pieces, comprised of wide sweeping strokes and large painted and cutout shapes, embody the bold and deliberate nature of cut and paste collage. Her works are all-consuming like a tapestry, but one that has been shattered and re-formed. The scale of the marks lends itself to a sort of zoomed-in image, as there is nothing delicately thread-like about it, but rather chunky and weighted like a vessel. Her saturation and raw, uneven edges tie into the shaped bodily pieces by Sarah Faux (b. 1986). Faux’s collaged canvas works seem a natural progression from her stretched canvas paintings in which the viewer experiences snippets of sexuality like flashbacks to a hazy encounter. Carnal sensations and figurative imagery pull forward through layered forms that abstract the image, like a memory of desire. Her collages further emphasize the intimacy of gazing upon a lover’s twisted body, writhing in the sheets, as the clear edges and heightened color thrust us into a close encounter.
Melissa Meyer (b.1946) presents an all over field of vibrating marks and color, a composition packed with units like apples in a crate, but without the certainty and exactitude of that system. Like Faux and Brady, her collages offer a different experience than her paintings, with the cut edges providing another type of line, and the layering providing a new kind of chaotic density. In Meyer’s watercolor assemblages, the edges of each collaged piece are a hard version of the whimsical and transparent brush strokes contained within the painted paper. Within Anne Ryan’s (1889 – 1954) intimate collages one feels a satisfying honesty in presentation of the material. Unlike the other artist’s hand cut intentional edges and manipulated shapes and color, Ryan’s collage employs soft, torn edges, and found scraps of fabrics and papers. Fragments of different materials cluster and layer within these small works, but with atmosphere and room to breathe, despite their small scale. The moments of heat within the mostly neutral palettes, small areas of red, orange, rusty brown, and green gold, are heightened by Brady, Faux, and Meyer’s all over, intense color.
Women have always collected things and saved and recycled them because leftovers yielded nourishment in new forms. The decorative functional objects women made often spoke in a secret language, bore a covert imagery…We base our interpretations of the layered meanings in these works on what we know of our own lives—a sort of archeological reconstruction and deciphering.
-Excerpt from the essay “Femmage” by Melissa Meyer and Miriam Schapiro, originally published in Heresies Magazine in 1978.