Adding History to Collage

NYPL digital images collectionCollage artists are always looking for bits and pieces to add to their work. Does your family have a bunch of letters in a steamer trunk in the attic? Yeah, I wish. I do have a bunch of documents, anything I can get my hands on, but I’m always on the lookout for more. So when the New York Public Library released thousands of digitized images that anyone could use, I got a little excited!

For fun, I tried this letter from their music collection in one of my pieces. Even though I try to use my own work wherever I can — the photography, the printmaking, the textures — I also want to add a sense of history, and sometimes the best way to do that is with actual historic work.

But here’s the thing: as much as the handwriting from this letter added beautiful texture and interest, I prefer it when the history can be traced back to me, not the library. I substituted a letter my Great-Aunt Lumena wrote to her family, instead, and was much happier. Voila! Just a bit of text along the left side adds an air of the past, and it’s like part of my family history is passed along to you.

Now: your mileage will vary, of course, and I encourage you to check out the collection of images. I’ll keep on looking as well — there might be something in there that’s just the perfect accent for my work. What do you think you could do with all that access to history?

Chime in!