Collage show at Orange Coast College sorts out comic books and literature

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Another, enormous scale series of collections has advanced toward Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, where the works are going in plain view as a feature of artist Richard Kraft’s first independent presentation in Quite a while since 2015.

The “Flag Sail Wing” show will open Thursday and be in plain view through Dec. 5 at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion. It highlights six new pieces — one of which is made out of 39 unique, littler pieces. Three of the biggest establishments — “Flag,” “Sail” and “Wing” — give the show its name.

Kraft started chip away at the series in 2018. The most up to date piece, “Wing,” was finished a month ago.

The collages at the Doyle fuse comic book pictures and writing, enlivened by a montage Kraft made in 2012 from cut pages of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

“I didn’t really make another piece like that for several years and then I thought … what could be really interesting [is] if I sort of brought that process and began to work with images as opposed to just text,” Kraft said.

Kraft, a photography educator at Orange Coast College, depicted his work as varied. He gets a kick out of the chance to work in various media, he stated, and the display mirrors his enthusiasm for non-straight accounts.

“I got really excited about the way that they looked, about the kind of jumbling of history. In a way, it’s like dismantling history and then piecing it back together again,” he said. “But in none of these pieces can one follow a single linear track, and that seems really emblematic of actually how history really is.”

“We tend to think of history as being, ‘OK, the United States began here and we’re now here and it’s this straight line,'” he included. “But actually, it’s really messy … and complicated. There’s hundreds of thousands of different stories that are versions of that history.”

The six establishments endeavor to address that, he said.

For instance, Kraft stated, “Flag,” which estimates a sum of 10 feet tall and 7 feet in length, is made out of two boards. The left board is a montage of Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States,” while the correct board is a gathering of comic book cuttings that outline American history.

“In my eyes, [the comics] are very romanticized versions of American history and [the text] is a completely unromanticized vision of that history, but they’re both kind of flawed in a way,” Kraft said. “[Zinn] sees things through a very specific filter … as do those comics. This piece really takes both of those approaches to American history and deconstructs them.”

Doyle Arts Pavilion executive Tyler Stallings said he had been following Kraft’s work for a considerable length of time. In the wake of catching wind of the new gathering, Stallings was captivated and chose to incorporate the display on account of the size of the collections and the utilization of comic books, he said.

“Comic books, album covers, things like that, I think was often the first introduction that people had to visual art,” Stallings said. “I think from a curatorial point of view … it’s interesting to think where people first had that engagement with art or thinking of art in a different way.”

Stallings said he was interested on the manner in which Kraft utilized what was well-known and after that defamiliarized it by cutting it up for the compositions.

“With collage, what’s nice is when you’re actually in the space looking at the work, you sense the artist’s process and the labor that they put in this when you think about somebody obsessively applying these very tiny images to a big, expansive space,” Stallings said.

“You can’t help but hopefully make somebody wonder why somebody would be so obsessive about engaging in something that’s so time-consuming.”

The exhibition will hold an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, and a visit with Kraft will be held around early afternoon Nov. 14.

“There’s no one way to look at it. There’s no one way to navigate through it. There’s no one way to experience it,” Kraft said. “My hope is that every time people come back, they see different things. They’ll find different things and different ways through the piece. Each of those experiences is a sort of different narrative.”

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