Visual Art

Who wanted to be a window dresser when they grew up? Me! — I’ve always had a passion for arranging and setting things up –from the pictures hung on my walls to bulletin board displays to wildflower bouquets on my windowsills. In fact, I’ve spiraled through a lot of art-making on my life journey, but I didn’t think of myself as an artist til recently.


In 2006 I took a weeklong morning workshop called “Tending the Soul With Collage” at the Friends General Conference Gathering in Tacoma, WA. Delighted, I discovered collage can be a profound way to create visual meaning (long a frustration for me, as I had little training in drawing or painting).

In addition, I learned that my powerfully satisfying experience was based on the fascinating work of Seema Frost, author of Soul Collage. I particularly recommend her method of letting a created collage “speak” to you, by writing out whatever comes to you in the “voice” of that collage as “I am/we are the one/s who . . .”

Since that initial workshop, I have run two different ongoing collage groups, first in Columbus, Ohio, and currently at the Unitarian Church of Montreal.(to get involved in either, contact me)

Caroline with the “Empty Bed” series of collages Dec 2012; photo by Irene Rapaport

For more details, get in touch on the contact page

You can also see some of my other collages and nature photographs paired with haiku on the poetry page.


I began this collage with the largest circle, and the other parts just kept feeling as if they blended with first the blue, then the green elements. After I added the tiger’s face [can you see it?], I realized the whole was like a mandala, a sacred “crossed circle” design. I often lose myself in the process of assembling a collage, and find it deeply refreshing.

This collage began with the circular shape of a beautiful orange art basket, and grew to include much more of that and related colours. Finally, I thought it needed something central –and the face, an Inuit carving, appeared to fit! What it’s “about” is not definite in my mind. What do you see?

This collage was one of the later ones I made –of many– about the beauty of breasts and my feelings about breast cancer, which has claimed the lives of both my mother and older sister. Making these collages was cathartic, and with this one, I enjoyed adding some little strips of rhinestones to my “collection” of female bodies. Their sparkle seemed almost like nipples to me –but that doesn’t show very clearly here.

The original photo shows a woman leaning over an empty bed, and I have now collaged several different variations on what I place in that bed or out the windows. This one is redolent of my sister Betsy, to me, because she loved the children’s book
The Wind Boy, with its magical “robe of starry brightness”, which I have symbolically laid in the bed.

Malaylam is the Dravidian language spoken in Kerala, and these words are simply taken from various newspapers headlines. I love their visual quality and have no idea of what words I’ve actually used here! At one time I could read Malayalam and speak enough to communicate reasonably –now less so, though a fair amount came back to me during my month’s sojourn at Mitraniketan in 2007.

As with so many collages, different visual ideas just seem to be related to other images that I find, but the connection is more intuitive than rational. I love times beside the water, and there are three peaceful images of that, plus some elements that just suggested themselves.

I love this quote, gleaned from the website of my longtime friend and fellow river walker, Christina MacEwan. Check out her very beautiful and moving artwork, plus her wise words about the process of making art …

“What artists do is make a particularly skillful selection of fragments of cosmos, . . . bits chosen and arranged to give an illusion of coherence and duration amidst the uncontrollable streaming of events. An artist makes the world her world. An artist makes her world the world.”
– Ursula LeGuin, Dancing at the Edge of the World

One response so far

  1. Found you via the SpiritArt Centre workshops via eventbrite on a midnight sift.

    Totally inspirational. I could write you a book about why. But start with ~ cranes/herons are my childhood totem.

    Thank you.

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