On a painted canvas, there’s a picture, from a magazine, of a flock of birds, a broach that’s a replica of a compass, an antique key and mention of a bible verse. What does it all mean? That’s the fun of making and interpreting collages, the art of reassembling small objects and pictures of preexisting images in such a way as to form a new image.
Piecing it Together
Artists like Jacquie Delcambre challenge any preconceived notions that a collage is making something from torn pieces of paper and Elmer’s glue. Her collages are a colorful use of paint, magazine images, pictures, recycled objects and mixed mediums that have symbolic meaning and suggest a story. For the past 25 years, she has made collage a visual language.
“I have done art as far back as I can remember,” says the long-time New Iberia resident. “It’s kind of like breathing for me. I’m a self-taught artist who has played with different mediums -painting, sketching and sculpting - and never found one that I wanted to stick with. I’ve always enjoyed cutting and pasting things. I’ve always been one of these people that enjoys collecting odd, discarded pieces I can use in my art. Several years ago, when my daughter was little, I stopped all visual art and turned my attention to her. When she got older, I got back into visual art and was introduced to rubber stamps and started incorporating them into my sketches and paintings. From there, collage developed organically for me.”
Steered by her mother, early on, into a more “practical career,” Delcambre has worked in insurance doing workers comp, claims and risk management for 30 years. She co-owns the safety inspection company PS Safety and Risk Management in Baton Rouge. Yet, art remains a major part of her life.
A writer as well, Delcambre explains her attraction to representational art saying, “I like to create art that tells a story or portrays a story to celebrate or encourage someone.” Her cutting and overlaying techniques demonstrate a personal journey and encourages viewers to think about their own experiences as well as the world around them.
Because of her long history with collage, her work has taken on many applications in addition to her paper art, incorporating fabrics, paint, fibers, ribbons and medium of gel, spackle, clay and hot wax. “I like pieces that make you want to reach out and touch them,” she emphasizes. “I love when you can see layers to the point that you’re looking at the piece and you have to study it to see the depth.”
The versatility of collage art is what Delcambre says makes it appealing to her. “I like vintage pieces, but then I love funky, bold bright colors,” she continues “and then, I may want something with a more spring-like pastel feel.”
When it comes to inspiration, almost anything goes if it’s interesting and catches her eye. “Recently, I was visiting someone in the hospital and took a picture of a dividing curtain because of the design on it.” She’s always on the lookout for “found objects” like game pieces, small mechanical pieces, rocks, sticks, flowers, seeds - whatever.
A big part of collage is color coordination and knowing composition. As to how Delcambre chooses the elements for her pieces and how they come together, she explains, “Certain things might inspire me to start the process: a word, a poem or a color, and an intuitive process starts to happen and I don’t know where it’s going to go. When I start, it takes on a life of its own. I grab something and it may work or it may not. I know when I’m heading down a path that I’ll love or one that I won’t. I’ll often place an object in odd numbers - three is my favorite number – and I put things in intersecting points that I call the ‘sweet spots.’ If I’m creating a piece for someone, during the process I like to pray for them and hopefully the prayers become the unseen part of the work that helps to encourage, uplift or speak to them.”
Her tools range from the unusual to the everyday: clear gel glue, hand tools that look like small rubber spatulas (some with serrated edges), even hotel key cards – and her fingers.
Themes of nature, family and religion are found throughout her work, embedded with recurring images of dragonflies, trees, spiral designs, words and parts of biblical scriptures.
Creativity During COVID19
Time spent during COVID isolation and “getting out of her head,” as she puts it, gave way to new ideas that she shared. “I’m doing a workshop with an artist from England, whom I’ve worked with before, where I’ve learned how to create a depth of background using her water-based spray dyes. I’m also using dyes for my paper and creating faux batik on silk scarves.”
A member of the L’Acadian Art Guild, Delcambre has shown her collages – many of them award winning - at art walks and shows, including Shadows of the Teche Arts & Crafts Show.
She has shared her talent in school classrooms, through her vision board workshops and one-on-one in her collage and painting classes. “The most rewarding for me is seeing the joy and delight on the face of someone I am working with when they sit back to admire the work they’ve created. THAT is an award that tops them all!” declares Delcambre.
You can view Jacquie’s art, on her Facebook site: Collage Impressions by Jacquie.