Curator of the only gallery in the world devoted to collage, Pavel Zoubok, talked to UT students about his interpretation of the growth of collage and what it really means in his lecture "Collage Culture: From Picasso to Facebook" on Monday in the Art and Architecture Building.
Collage has a long history, but, according to Zoubok, collage as an art form took off during the 20th century.
"It's the child of standardized production, consumer culture and the age of mechanical reproduction," Zoubok said. "It's the foundation of much of what we regard as modern in literature, film, music and in architecture."
Richard Ensor, senior in sculpture, said he enjoyed Zoubok's focus on the historical aspects of collage.
"Moving beyond preconceived notions of what collage is, he talked about its histories in scrapbooking, crafts and then he talked about it in terms of higher art," Ensor said.
Zoubok showed how Victorian scrapbooks made by aristocratic women passing the time are early works of collage art, and that – partly because of their portable feature – collage was an art form more available to women.
"It was the thing you could do on the kitchen table, the thing you could do without having a whole studio," Zoubok said.
Part of this history, according to Zoubok, is the ability for collage to maintain "bonafide gender equality."
"This is an artform that was historically available to women at a time when women either had less access to a studio or even less access to claim the identity of artist," Zoubok said.
Zoubok explained that collage is found in many areas of life. Even social media, such as Facebook, has become a collage.
"Your Facebook page is in essence an autobiographical collage," Zoubok said. "What do we put on our Facebook page? We put images that are found images, we put our own images ... we put quotes, we put our own writing."
He discussed the personal side of collage and how the scale of the work can affect the impact it can make.
"People often think of collage as being a pretty intimate affair by and large," Zoubok said. "I think one of the hardest things to do in a collage is work in a large scale. How do you keep that sense of intimacy, the connection to the materials, the visual coherence of the work?"
Stephanie Bullock, sophomore in graphic design, said she was looking forward to viewing the gallery and experiencing the sense of intimacy for herself.
"Now we get to go to the gallery and interpret them for what we see, because he was talking about how collages can be very personal," Bullock said.
Zoubok has been running his gallery for more than 16 years, and he began around the time when the Internet was just beginning to take off. Through the years he has been able to watch the movement progress in a more digitally-based world.
"The gallery mirrored this shift from the analog to the digital generation ... what I realized was that I was commenting on this transformation," Zoubok said.
Zoubok ended his lecture by posing the question of how, in today's world with all of the emerging technologies, to "take them and get that sense of the artist's participation in the work."
"Something to think about is that along with all of this technology..." Zoubok said. "There's also a kind of isolation and a flatness that goes with all of these tools, and I think that some of what I believe is a reaction is that ... the more mediated our daily lives become, the more I see artists making work and doing work that is all about the handmade."
To experience collage, visit the Ewing Gallery's Remix: Selections from the International Center for Collage, which holds many of the works discussed in Zoubok's lecture. It will be on display in the Art and Architecture Building until Dec. 8.