Sunday, December 13, 2009

John Washington's Collages

Earlier this year, I saw online for the first time a suite of collages created by John Washington, a senior lecturer in graphic design at the University of Bolton in England. I was greatly impressed by this series, in part because, while they appear to have been made by hand (through traditional cut-and-paste methods), they were instead constructed entirely on a computer. The term "small finds" is an archaeological phrase for discovered artifacts of unusual interest or value. John's collages are autobiographical, using scans of family photographs, letters, and other documents, and were in part the artist's means of coming to terms with his father's death in 2008. I began to exchange e-mails with him, and during the month of November 2009, I mounted a small exhibition of his collages at the Gallery of Art at the University of Northern Iowa. Fortunately, he has also posted them online at a website here, along with some of the source images and his reflections on the work. In news reports of the exhibition, I was quoted as saying this: "John Washington's work is a reminder that we do not yet appreciate the expressive potential of images that are made on computer."