Curiosity Killed the Collage?


I spent much of Saturday cleaning my house. When I was working in the living room, I spent some time looking at the collage I made in 2005. I have discussed it on the blog before. I made it for a senior Brit Lit class at UTTyler. I chose to create a collage and give a presentation on it rather than write a final paper. It might seem like less work, but it wasn’t at all. I worked on it daily for 2-3 months, and still most of the material I used had been composed several years before. Most of the collage is made up of poetry and prose I wrote between 1999-2001. I wrote obsessively during that time, recording my thoughts, feelings, and interactions regularly. I also wrote around 30 poems during those years and a few short stories. Pieces of many of these writings are on the collage interspersed with literary quotes and images.

When I finished the collage, I got rid of everything. I deleted or threw away almost all of the originals. I kept a notebook with most of my poems hand written, one of my short stories, and one journal. Everything else–and there was quite a lot–I got rid of. I think it must have been an attempt at catharsis. Or a sacrifice to art. Whatever the reason, I regret it now. While I love my collage–I don’t think that I have made a better piece of visual art–I am not an artist. I am a writer. And I could do a lot more with the words than with the fragmented representation I have now.

I tried to read as much of it as I could–maybe 65-70%, but there is still so much that it obscured. I even ripped off a couple of old pieces today to see what was underneath. Then I was like, “Laura Grace! Don’t be crazy! You can’t rip this apart just to see what is hidden!” I stopped myself, but I am so curious and intrigued.

I finished the collage in the spring of 2005, and it has hung in my living room ever since. I took it from Texas to Oklahoma to Florida back to Oklahoma and now Washington. It has always been the piece of art I was most proud of. I often work quickly when I paint, but I was slow and deliberate with this collage, and I am still so pleased with how it turned out. But through all of these moves I didn’t read it. When I finished it and threw everything away, after I got my A+, I hung it up and never looked at its pieces. I only saw it as a whole.

And maybe that is best. It is a representation of me during those years. Things I loved, dreams I had, memories, secrets. But starting sometime last year I began to feel ready to revisit the details. The more I write, the more I try to remember. The more I want to remember. And it is right there. I’m sitting 2 feet away from it all right now, but I would have to destroy the collage to get to it. And I still wouldn’t have it all. Because there was so much more that never made it on to the collage. And I threw it all away.

Maybe I just wish that I could write now the way I did then. Not style or content, but commitment and quantity. Maybe I miss being so dreamy. Maybe it is that so much bad shit was happening to me during those years and this collage is a representation of the good. It is a representation of my dreams and desires–my true friends, my loves, my hopes. It is a memory of all of the things I loved during the darkest part of my youth. And I loved them deeply because depression made me feel everything deeply. Only the most special, dearest of things could get through to me in those days. But they did get through. I have this entire collage as proof.

So no matter how much I want to see and read what is obscured, as much more useful as the words might be than the collage is, I am not going to rip it up. It will have to stay as is and continue to hang on my living room wall for as long as I love it.

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