History of Collage & Photomontage: Emily Bruckner

This is Sophie Standing’s contemporary collage portrait of a rhino done with fabric. (Artwork by: Sophie Standing, Black Rhino, image sourced from Gorgeous Black Rhino Recreated with Intricate Fabric Collage, 2014)

I chose an artist based in Kenya, Sophie Standing as my artist to write about. Standing is a contemporary collage artist who specializes in portraits of animals. She uses a variety of fabrics and threads to create her masterpieces; she sketches out the general shape of her subject and then painstakingly layers fabric and sews it into place with her sewing machine. As she stitches the layers of fabric into her piece, she uses darker colored threads to indicate the presence of wrinkles and shadows giving the piece a realistic appearance and the illusion of a rough and wrinkly texture, in the case of her black rhino portrait. The technology she used was a sewing machine to sew fabric into place for her piece and even though Standing used fabric for it, it never truly looks like fabric, but has the illusion of a painting. It is extremely impressive that she chose to use a medium that has been around since the nineteenth century and that is usually designed to make clothes and used it to create a new and beautiful art style.               

This a photo of Sophie Standing’s process with fabric and a sewing machine. (Photo by: Sophie Standing, Black Rhino, image sourced from Gorgeous Black Rhino Recreated with Intricate Fabric Collage, 2014)

Standing’s style is visually striking, yet it also keeps with the reality of her subject. Looking at her black rhino picture, one can see that it is indeed a rhino, and it holds the attention of the viewer better by the addition of widely different colors and patterns, that are separate from reality. I found the choice of a floral pattern for this piece interesting, because most people do not associate delicate and colorful flowers with such a powerful and dangerous beast. The use of the floral pattern makes the rhino more regal and gentle to look at. The piece is dominated by the black rhino, and it draws most of the viewers focus to it. The background is simple and only suggests outlines of foliage which if created in more detail would draw the eyes away from the main subject, the rhino. The background has more muted and simple pastel colors which contrast drastically with the vibrant colors the rhino possesses. In my opinion, the main focus is intended to be the rhino, and the choice of floral patterns and bright colors is used to soften the animal’s image and nature.

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