Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Artists' Palettes: Terry Rosen

[All images in this post courtesy artist Terry Rosen.]

Since I began the Artists' Palettes series back in 2009, we've seen many different interpretations of the traditional paint-splattered boards. Today, Terry Rosen, an illustrator, textile/surface designer and fine artist is sharing with us her "paper palettes" and passion for the medium.

A life-long artist who started her formal training as a child at the Y, Terry earned her B.A. in art history from Cornell University and went on to work as an advertising illustrator for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Later she found herself designing prints for Nicole Miller and Oleg Cassini. (I happen to be drawn to her illustration below.)

But more recently, Terry has developed a serious affinity for collage.

She explains:

In "The Graduate" when someone advised, 'Plastics, Ben,' it was so sage. Most wrappers, labels, stickers are now plastic. Paper is rare street detritus, so finding it is like finding an authentic treasure. Because of its materiality, paper decays, mutates, discolors, fades. Abandoned and windswept paper has its own mottled, organic beauty. Perhaps I identify with it, or find a nobility in rescuing orphans of commerce.

Plucked from urban landscapes, my latest collages are street-to-table. I continue to prefer it to making collages digitally, which is much more forgiving, immediate and infinitely abundant. The search for the pieces on the internet is similarly serendipitous, but lacks the hunt with its smells, dirt, tactility, physical context and reward.

Like my idols Kurt Schwitters and John Evans, I am inspired by paper that is transactional in nature -- ticket stubs, airport claims, raffles, coat checks -- or institutional: membership stickers, temp ID cards. Each location yields different shards, revealing the anthropology of the site. I’m also attracted to pieces that are illustrative, or have unusual type treatments like foreign mint wrappers. The papers I save are artifacts of contemporary culture, and memories of my own experience. The collages I make are stories of time and place.

Sometimes the paper for me is the paint, and my pieces become color studies. The process of taking what is scattered carefree on streets to make something with an order, meaning and beauty is the collage. The paper fragments are tiles I find to complete tessellations. Their textures, missing letters, partial imagery are mysterious—waiting to have another context, a puzzle solved over time.

Initially, I made collages to then be able to draw them, like this piece. Composed of all the tickets from cultural events I had attended, I made a collage and then drew and painted it with watercolor. The collage became a textile design. Lately, using hybrid technologies, I have been building collages, photographing them and printing them, sometimes directly onto fabric.

Collecting and working with paper is legacy, or congenital. My father kept all kinds of texts, papers, note pads, matchbooks, x-ray paper. He taught me to have a reverence for paper as he thought all materials were precious. As a child, I made crayon drawings on the orange Kodak x-ray paper he brought home, and unwrapped presents slowly, carefully slicing the conjoined edges with a knife to be able to savor the decorated paper. Now my collections of paper are pasted or floating in notebooks, in little piles on my table or in boxes.

Learn more about Terry's work here.

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