These collages are not about art. They are not meant to be framed for a gallery. They are about me - my likes, my fears, my regrets, and my dreams. I spent my life focusing on others ?trying to please them. I was interested in their opinions, likes, dislikes and desires. I never spent any time on looking at me. When I realized I didn’t know myself, I found it very difficult to see inside myself with the accuracy I could see in others. I found myself leery of looking inside. I was afraid of what I might find, and even more scared that I’d find nothing there. The practice of collage has given me a means to bypass the conscience and tap deeper in. Tap into that place where the real me lives.

I began by gathering magazines that appealed to me. I choose Rolling Stone, Christian , decorating, spiritual and new age magazines. I get a lot of magazines from the dumpster of a local daily news store. I began by cutting out anything at all that caught my eye. At first it was embarrassing. Why did I keep cutting out pictures of black children? I couldn’t make sense of the things I was cutting. I had so many pictures of American flags ?why? I tried to analyze the words and pictures that I chose. I wanted to find an explanation for why I had so many words like “help? “futile? “the end? etc. Eventually I became able to just go with the flow. When I had enough pictures, I just intuitively knew it was time to stop cutting and start pasting.

I use foam board for my collages, although I have used poster board in a pinch. I don’t plan or lay out the pictures. I go right to the sub-conscious and just start trimming, tearing and pasting. If I feel an urge to do something, I do it. The process is similar to “stream of consciousness?or “automatic?writing. In that exercise you write without using punctuation and never raise you pen until the allotted time has run out.

The outcome is always beautiful and meaningful. My collages tell a wonderful story about a woman who has rich heritage and pride in who she is. I’ve learned that I am strong and resilient, not weak and cowardly like I always thought. One in particular taught me that I am a good mother who has gone beyond the call of duty to teach her children about life.

It started as a tool for discovery and it has indeed provided that, but has also been a source of affirmation and nurturing. Any time that I feel bad about myself or have questions concerning an area of my life, I get out the magazines and start cutting! It has never failed to give me the answers and validation that I need at the time.

Author's Bio: 

Beth, her husband and two sons live in west Texas. She enjoys writing, web page design and learning new ways to nurture herself and those around her.