Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mother and Daughter with Birds Leaving 2006

When I teach my paint to collage workshops, one of the things I always try to bring up is the appropriation of other people's material, specifically photographic images taken from magazines or books.  Legally, there are rules about copyright infringement and what percentage of taking something of someone else's image is illegal, but that's not really what I want to convey to my students.  One of my students said it best, "I would just be really pissed if I walked into a room and there on the wall was one of my pictures that someone had stolen and stuck in their collage".  I always tell my students that the more the source material for their collages is their own, the better it is, both in terms of authenticity and, morals; not depending solely on someone else's creativity.  Through the course of the workshop I will often have to remind certain students of what we have been talking about because they don't seem to have a clear sense of just how much they are pilfering  someone else's image.

That being said, I have to look at my own images and hope that I stay on the side not of stealing but, instead, of marrying diverse images to make something completely new and original.  I'm hoping that Rembrandt, were he to walk into the room which held Mother with Daughter and Birds Leaving would, in seeing the head of Agatha Bas that he had painted so many years ago, not be angry at me.  Instead I hope that he would  be intrigued in seeing how I had used Angela's head to tell a story about a mother who is about to lose her daughter to the outside world.  He would understand that the birds spoke of the eventual freedom of the girl, but he would also see the snake-like figure at the top, and would know that as well as freedom there was also implied danger.  He would see the pride, but also the sorrow, that the mother feels. He would see that, in so beautifully capturing the face of Angela Bas, he gave me the perfect mother to tell this story.

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