Looking at Art
The round shape of this paper collage by Josette Urso directs us to go in circles to take in the information she has placed end to end and row by row in the composition. Starting with images she cuts from magazines and other printed materials, Urso reorders and rearranges figures, forms and colors. Many we recognize; others we find pleasing but mysterious. Sometimes a photograph or design will trigger memories and associations that create our own narratives.
The scale of Urso's work gives us a sense of the familiar: 36 inches is the size of a round kitchen table, where we may sit every day in our own homes or those of friends and relatives. We have distinct memories associated with this shape. The circle recurs throughout the work-in lampshades, disco balls, targets and eyeballs. Stripes and other patterns further energize the surface. Some forms, like leaves, cross the lines of compartments uniting the whole composition and altering the pace of our reading of the collage.
As in any narrative, we can linger over individual parts or move quickly forward. And just as we return to pleasant memories and ruminate about the patterns in our own lives, we can look at Urso's collage many times, appreciating its individual elements and satisfying whole.
Josette Urso is showing new collages at the von Liebig Art Center beginning Jan. 7.
Mark Ormond is a Southwest Florida art historian and consultant.