the feminine urge to collage
Hi portal lovers. Is that a good name for this blog fam? Blog squad? I’ve been watching old episodes of Frenemies as I painstakingly scan 5000 pages (more on that another time) so my brain is currently fried from too much YouTube.
It’s that weird in-between summer and fall period, which feels like an extended Sunday. Is the entire month of August the equivalent of one long Sunday? Despite having not been in school for over a decade, I am not immune to the surmounting back-to-school energy. September will always feel like a beginning. So, it’s only fitting that I come to you with a book report.
Earlier this month, I released my book Chick Magnet with Heavy Manners. This is my first offering in a larger body of work I’ve been exploring around the concept of vision boards.
For those who may not be familiar, a vision board is a grouping of images made with the objective of manifesting or visualizing goals for one’s life. Typically, they are made around the new year as a way of setting intentions for the coming year. The act of making a vision board is a very personal practice. Despite this, they all tend to feature the same types of images that emphasize travel, wellness, beauty, money, romance, and career success. Motivational words and phrases are interspersed throughout these collages: believe; dream; mindset; time is not refundable, use it with intention. A cursory Google image search of the term will produce a smattering of nearly identical collages.
Late last year, I watched a TikTok from artist and friend Maya Man. She was in her childhood bedroom going through old collages she had made. “There’s something about being a girl and collaging…like I just need to see these Taylor Swift lyrics next to a bowl of fruit.” Vision boards feel like a furthering of this feminine drive. They are the Girl Boss older sister to the tweenage notebook stuffed with magazine clippings.
My interest in the vision board and its aspirational nature led me to think about other groupings of images that could act as vision boards: Tumblr blogs, Pinterest boards, notebook collages, posters on a bedroom wall, starter pack memes, files on a computer’s desktop, the overflowing downloads folder. Suddenly, I was seeing vision boards everywhere.
I wrote about the kitchen as a charged space back on the blog a few months ago. It felt natural to make the kitchen, specifically the refrigerator, the locus of my first vision boarding experiment. The outside of a kitchen fridge traditionally houses to-do lists, postcards, sentimental photographs, and travel memorabilia. I wanted to use the visual language of the cluttered refrigerator door and morph it into my own interpretation of a vision board.
Slowly, I began to make images solely for the fridge. I would find source material online (Tumblr, Pinterest, scrolling TikTok) and would attempt to emulate it. Instead of simply downloading images and sticking them up on the fridge; I would perform them. I had to embody each image: a woman standing in front of a grocery store produce aisle on Pinterest; a woman eating a Sweetgreen salad; a photo of Bella Hadid with her head in a bowl of ice water. At the core of the vision board is the desire to embody.
Each performed image felt like an exercise. How close could I get to the source material? How much did I want to? My attempts at recreating these aestheticized images also revealed my failure. In which ways was I failing to emulate consciously and subconsciously? I’d rub up against it, but ultimately be left with something slightly uncanny.
Unmediated, found images made their way onto the fridge as well. A girl wearing a sweater that says “Empathy” is showing off her tinned fish collection on TikTok. Screenshot. An Instagram Reel of a bowl of pasta with the text “Romanticize your spaghetti” on top of it. Screenshot. A Flickr photograph of a woman posing with a finger in her mouth inside of a commercial drink refrigerator. Save to desktop. I wanted to be both the picture of the girl on the Pinterest board and the girl at the computer dragging and dropping files onto her desktop.
The magnets on the fridge also became their own little art objects. I opted to make multiple sets of custom ones: a crumpled up chip bag; a Smeg toaster; overnight oats; a matcha latte. Some images were printed out and stuck on the fridge, while others became the magnets used to hold it all together.
This had the potential to become an endless process. Adding and repositioning images, constantly tinkering until the end of time. I initially envisioned this piece on a fridge standing in a gallery somewhere. For now, it lives in my home as a permanent installation.
Chick Magnet features all of the images made, collected, and performed for the fridge. It is vision board #1 of who knows how many will follow. You can order it here for $15 and it ships early September. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal <3