Collaboration is a book of images created digitally over a six month period with Sharon Marcus, a contemporary fiber artist and photographer in Portland. We began by reviewing each others’ work, and each selected pieces or series which evoked a response. When I chose Sharon ’s Façade and Chapters I had no idea why, but I thought they represented how little our work had in common. In general, I found Sharon ’s work to be cerebral, stark, and impenetrable, but compelling, and I was afraid I would not find a way inside. In Chapters, I thought I had found a lifeline because these pieces read like a book, and I rely in my printmaking on evoking specific stories. Something about the wire, the random text and the rough texture drew me in.
In comparing the work at the end of this project to the first images, I am struck by how deeply influenced I have been by Sharon’s preferences, her technique, and her prior imagery bank. Throughout the exchanges I began to feel and express these influences. I see how unconscious this process actually is. I don’t recall looking at Sharon ’s work and deciding or intending to use or imitate it, or to adopt her style. But I clearly made choices of elements which spoke to me at a nonverbal level, and allowed myself to play with and expand on them. I’ve learned that the only workable ‘intention’ can be to choose a starting point and wait for something to happen. So this is an important understanding for me on the nature of collaboration.
Where We Stopped
I am also interested by how it emerged that our individual vision and visual vocabulary in fact reflected common preoccupations we have both expressed in our art work, and how these themes then resulted in a series at the end that seems to blur the boundaries of what previously was easily identifiable as Sharon or Jana. I am struck by how much and how rapidly my own expression has deepened, and how working with Sharon has allowed me to better fuse or simulate the subtle effects of the printing press in monotype on the computer. I was pleasantly surprised that the demands, interruptions and the rhythms of life in general as this process went on for six months, and external political events – the turmoil in the Middle East, the shock of gun violence in Arizona- immediately surfaced in the work we produced, and somewhat seamlessly was integrated into our work. Finally, this process has allowed Sharon and me to deepen our personal relationship through the language of art. I feel much enriched by this process and am grateful for it.