Collage artist transforms trash to treasure

Emily Cope

Frayed ribbon, tattered comic strips and random photo negatives can be called junk and thrown into a wastebasket without a second thought.

But for someone like Kent State alumnus George Schroeder, these seemingly worthless objects could be a perfect addition to an intricate piece of collage art.

“What got me started in collage is my attraction to found materials,” Schroeder said. “(Found materials can be) anything from junk mailings to billboards or even comics. It’s free and makes interesting art.”

Schroeder, a retired art professor from Hiram College, currently has a collage collection titled Ragged Obsessions on display at the Downtown Gallery in Kent. The show has about two dozen pieces, which are all for sale.

The exhibit is dedicated in memory of Robert Morrow, a former Kent State art professor. Morrow was Schroeder’s graduate adviser and mentor.

“Morrow taught that you had to pay attention to everything in a work,” Schroeder said. “Every edge was important. It made me sensitive to detail. He also stressed the importance of finding art in the outside world.”

Schroeder said he considers his work neo-Cubist, and he tried to create art for this collection that would make people think.

“I want to create something that is complex and ambiguous and invites people to reflect,” he said. “I want to give people a rich visual and textured experience. I’d never be happy creating art on a computer. I love the torn edges and grunge that comes from found materials.”

Jeanne Cebulla, of Hiram, said she enjoyed the exhibit.

“It’s very creative how he has taken bits and pieces and made something of them,” Cebulla said. “It’s interesting to see how an artist can take a simple train ticket and make art.”

Gretchen Bierbaum, Kent State graduate and founder of the National Collage Society, said she attended the show to support a wonderful collage artist.

“Heaven, I’ve died and gone to heaven,” Bierbaum said. “He is a master collage artist. His work makes me feel like I’ve been transported. It has such wonderful edges.”

Ragged Obsessions will be on display through Nov. 4. The Downtown Gallery is located at 223 N. Water St. in Kent and is open 12-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Contact College of the Arts reporter Emily Cope at [email protected].