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Collaging for A Cause

I am always interested in attending shows that integrate visual art and music, benefit a great cause, and take place in a space that I have yet to see.  Collage On Demand, a live collage show that took place on January 26, featured all of the above.

Melissa Oresky at Collage On Demand

Dan Sullivan and Edra Soto are co-owners of The Franklin, where the event took place and featured collage artist Melissa Oresky.  She was excited to expand her artistic horizons and do Collage on Demand in this setting.  “I had wanted to challenge myself like this for a while, to make things for individual people, and to make my work engage a different economy than a traditional gallery exhibition,” Oresky said regarding Collage on Demand.  “Edra Soto is a good friend of mine, and they first invited me to do a project with the Franklin many months ago.  So there were  visual art and music connections and friendships that kicked into action.”

Oresky was busy at work making collages on the spot. She chatted with the audience while she worked, asking people to select materials from a pile with which she made personalized collages for a small donation.

“I came up with the idea [of Collage on Demand] because I am very controlled and particular about how I make things,” explained Oresky.  “I always want to be looser, so I am always spontaneously thinking about ways to open my process up.  One very appealing kind of opening up is to involve other people, but not as full collaborators.”

“I’m used to working very fast, having made several long series of small, repetitive, almost redundant collages since 2006. They usually are more abstract than my other work, and are made through what I would call a generative mindlessness.  I don’t identify this at all with meditation, but it is still discerning.”

Melissa Oresky at Collage on Demand

While her pieces were not intended to be portraits of the individual, she drew upon what was happening in the room at the time, such as conversation, as material for the collages.  “I made things I wouldn’t have normally made,” said Oresky of the experience.  “They were more playful and less intentional than usual.  I had to process moments of total blankness, or panic, and try to be conscious of time.”

Collage on Demand was part of the Letha Melchior Rodman Cancer Fund, a global effort to help Letha raise money for her cancer treatment.  Letha and Dan Melchior are artists and musicians, prominent in the avant-garde rock scene, based in New York City. They started the fund after Letha was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2010.  As both Letha and Dan are musicians, they set the fund up to support music-related events.  Melissa Oresky’s collage show is the first and only visual arts event to receive patronage from the fund thus far.  Oresky’s show followed a concert the previous night at the Burlington, featuring bands Circuit Des Yeux, Rabid Rabbit, These Wonderful Evils, and Nad Navillus.  Oresky’s husband, Zak Boerger, is a musician and friend of Dan and Letha.  He has organized benefits in Chicago and Bloomington, where the two live, on various prior occasions.  These events are intended to raise awareness and also money so Letha and Dan can continue to afford her treatment until the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014.

Melissa Oresky at Collage on Demand

The event had a cozy feel; people would casually stroll in and out, snack on some chips and salsa, and watch Oresky hard at work.  It felt more like a casual visit to see a friend (which, for some, was exactly what the event was) than an arts benefit.  Oresky appeared to be at ease while working, creating small collages while casually interacting with those interested in watching her work.

Oresky is currently involved in a group show in Brooklyn, NY, Angular Seduction, running through February 17.  She also has shows planned in Albuquerque, NM and Bloomington, IL for this coming fall.  She is an associate professor of painting and drawing at Illinois State University.

To learn more about Melissa Oresky, visit her website here.  To learn more about the Letha Melchior Rodman Cancer Fund, and to view future benefits, visit the blog here

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