Looking at the bigger picture: how collages relate to paper writing



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Looking at the bigger picture: how collages relate to paper writing

When we write a paper, we are asked to make a point in the form of a thesis. We are expected in our paper to support this thesis in the subsequent paragraphs. This is easier for some than it is for others. In this class, we have not been asked to write papers, but instead, we have been asked to compose (perhaps) more creative and artistic visual and auditory projects to express ourselves (as we would in a paper). But what are we learning? How can we use these projects as templates for future papers?
When creating our collage, we had to decide on a thesis: we had to decide what character and what poem to represent visually. Then we had to specify what we wanted to convey about this character and this poem. I chose Jo March and Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold. Then, I decided to focus on the gender conflicts experienced by Jo March as well as the theme of struggling to maintain faith despite the knowledge of science (which mostly disproves our religious beliefs) found in Dover Beach.
Like we chose words to express ourselves clearly and concisely in an essay, we must chose images. Like we chose the order and organization of paragraphs, we must carefully consider the size and placement of each image.

Making a collage serves as a metaphor for writing a paper. For example, I made a collage on the Dave Matthews Band. We all know, however, that this is too general. Like writing a paper, we have to form a specific thesis so that we can form a clear and specific argument. The “thesis” of my Dave Matthews collage is: The music of the Dave Matthews Band is literary because it conveys emotion. Each image I selected must support this thesis. The image I chose to represent my thesis is the silver “fire dancer” on a black background with the letters DMB in silver script. The fire dancer image has come to represent the Dave Matthews Band. I chose to keep this image in the background and place opaque, foreground images over it. This background, or my thesis, takes up the entire background; like in a paper, the thesis is a thread that holds the paper together and ties each paragraph back to a central idea. Each image or, metaphorically, the paragraphs of my paper, has a specific place on my canvas. Its placement is significant and very meaningful.

So what kind of images would I use to show that Dave’s music is literary? How would I show that music conveys emotion? If I were writing a paper, how and in what words would I explain how this band’s music is emotional? The first image is situated at the top of the collage and pops with color: pink and white stripes. The text is lyrics from the song Two Step: “Celebrate we will because life is short but sweet for certain.” The carpe diem theme is one of the overarching (hence its placement in the collage) themes of Dave’s music; each song celebrates life, happiness, and love.
But not every song is all about happiness. Part of what makes Dave’s music so emotional is that it deals with the emotion of the pain of loosing love. In the bottom right corner, there is a flower from the “album cover” of The Lillywhite Sessions (this album was never released). Songs that were supposed to be on this “album” include Grey Street, Grace is Gone, and Bartender. The song Grace is Gone is rumored to have been written after Dave proposed to the same the woman for the third time and was, again, denied. The overwhelming emotion of loss and pain is conveyed through the song lyrics and the music. I chose to put this flower in the collage, a pretty image representing pain, because of this carpe diem theme. Despite pain, Dave always moves on and this sense of growth and progress can be felt despite pain.

The interconnectedness of each image parallels the way paragraphs of a paper should overlap and be interconnected. There is a “canvas” image and each image is integrated into that image.

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