Catherine-Esther is a co-founder of imakeuselessstuff.com. She is a poet and visual artist from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. A graduate of the Pacific University low-residency MFA Writing program, her poetry has been nominated for AWP Intro Journal, a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2018 and 2019. Her collage art was featured in The Indianapolis Review and ctrl + v journal.
What inspired you to start making collages?
I have always appreciated visual art. While working at the Sears’ Headquarters, I would walk the large office campus stopping to admire and take photos of the corporate art collection.
Often, I would take the train from wherever I lived at the time into downtown Chicago to visit the Art Institute of Chicago or the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition that resonated and continues to haunt my memory is Kerry James Marshall’s Mastry at the MCA.
On one of my trips to Chicago, I picked up a book about collages by Danielle Krysa at the Art Institute of Chicago’s museum shop. My interest piqued, I attended a free workshop on collage art. While cutting, sticking and photo-copying the components of my collage piece, I realized the possibility: I could make visual art.
Why analog collage?
Poetry is such a cerebral art form. Analog collage offered a more embodied experience. I love the feel of paper. The different textures and colors. The messiness of glue, paint and paper scraps. Initially, and even now, depending on the project, collaging can feel like play—I’m five again.
I started to consider collaging as a hobby during the lockdown. It became a form of self-care. I needed a fun creative outlet as I worked on editing a poetry manuscript that dealt with some heavy subject matter as well as something to help me through that period of social isolation.
What other collage artists inspire your work?
Wangechi Mutu, Deborah Roberts, Danielle Krysa. But also other artists such as Kara Walker, Bisa Butler, and Danielle Joy McKinney.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten as an artist or the most important thing you’ve learned?
A friend who is also a poet and art historian, once told me to think of each element in a collage as a line of poetry. And the more decisions I make in a work the more interesting it will be.