Students are generally warned not to write in books that aren’t theirs—doodling on pages, cutting them, or pasting things on top of them is off limits. But this week, with guidance from Los Angeles–based artist and graphic designer Lorna Turner, students were encouraged to invade the precious pages and turn them into works of art.
Given old, discarded books from the school library, Turner asked students to contemplate their pages and create collages on them. The overriding theme was the same as the title of Turner’s exhibit in the Brodigan Gallery: Disappearing Messages. “The books are no longer what they once were,” explained Turner, who showed classes how creative collages can tell a story. At the students’ hands, the messages on the pages were turned on their side, upside down, or even obliterated by collages—ultimately resulting in entirely new messages.
One collage sends messages about social justice, while another makes a meme of Grant Wood’s American Gothic. With intersecting lines and the New York Times’ logo, a student attempted commentary on responsible and “fake news” in his collage.
Turner spent January 14–18 on the Circle, courtesy of Groton's artist-in-residency, the Mudge Fellowship—established by the Mudge Foundation in 1992 to enhance students’ exposure to the arts.
Throughout the week, the Los Angeles-based multimedia artist and graphic designer worked with a variety of art classes: Painting, Visual Studies Workshop, Pop Art, and Second and Third Form Visual Studies classes, taught by Jennifer Ho, as well as Ceramics, Drawing, and Third Form Visual Studies classes taught by Melissa de Jesus. Turner also held a gallery talk and hands-on project on Wednesday evening.
The students' book collages will join Turner's works on display in the Brodigan Gallery. Turner's own work shows the lure of things that are forgotten—whether deteriorating signage or abandoned houses (or discarded books). The erosion of the original fascinates her.