First few basic questions, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
My name is Maria Elisa Quiaro, I am a visual artist. I was born in Venezuela, and I live in Germany.
Why collages? How did you start to do them?
I studied Art, Graphic Design, and Journalism. I love paper, that’s the truth. Besides that, I love the processes of manual creation, that’s why I work with other media such as ceramics, photography, and painting, in all these areas of art is imbricated the work with the hands. However, collage combines many other things: the love for the visual, the fascination with paper, and the process of working by hand.
Cutting with scissors is an act that takes us all back to childhood. I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t done it. In my case, when I discovered collage in 2014 we had moved house, and with the relocation I had lost a wonderful workshop. After a few months, I had an urgent need to create and the only thing I had at hand were papers that I had been saving for years without any purpose. So, I locked myself in the guest room for a few days, and in the midst of a wonderful chaos, my first series of 42 collages came out. At that time I had opened my first Instagram account, so I uploaded the series. A few days later I was contacted by a gallery in Linz, and they invited me to do a solo collage exhibition. What at first was born out of the mere need to do something creative, suddenly opened the doors to my new artistic expression on paper. From that moment on, I haven’t stopped. And although I continue to work with other media, collage has become my main means of artistic expression.
What do you think are the best and worst things in collaging and the creative process?
My creative process is slow, many months can pass between the idea and the act of gluing the piece together. The gestation of the work, the idea of a series, and the reflection of the concept that will sustain it is for me a joy, I love that stage. The hardest part is always gluing the piece together. It’s that moment when you know that nothing can be modified and that what you may have planned at the beginning can be changed with a single movement. And although it is the most difficult, there is always room for surprise.
How easy or hard is it to finish your work? Do you ever get burnt out on a piece, and what do you do to keep working and being productive?
I couldn’t speak in terms of ease or difficulty in finishing a work. It seems to me that they are in a constant process of development, almost all my series behave like that. I never close or finish them, there is always the possibility that they will continue to grow and develop.
As I work in other media, collage never tires me, rather it frees me from the burden of working with other materials such as clay or wood. Although, it does happen to me, that sometimes I start a piece and after a while, something tells me that I’m not going to like it in the end. It has cost me a lot, but over time I have learned to listen to my intuition and stop in time.
One can be productive in many ways in collage, whether it’s storing images for a series, or creating concepts, the simple act of writing about the idea keeps the flame burning. I believe that to continue on this path you have to keep your eyes open, you can find wonders along the way.
When you begin to work on a piece, do you have a clear vision of what you are going to do or where to start? How much do your works ”live”/change from the original vision? How much do you improvise?
As I work on a series, I usually have a rough idea of what I want to achieve in the project before I start. Whether the images come from similar sources or the colour palette unifies the series. In my imagination, this is always ready-made, which does not mean that there is no room for change or improvisation. For example, the series “When the Wind Blows” was born out of looking and looking at a bunch of Renaissance and baroque art prints, and really and literally not knowing what to do with them. I was about to throw them away one day. But as I always find it hard to get rid of paper, I didn’t. One fine day those images “revealed” to me what I wanted to do with them. The series now has more than 25 collages.
“I declare myself a paper and a sketchbook fetishist.”
How you would describe your relationship to old paper as working material?
Well, I declare myself a paper and a sketchbook fetishist. I love the smell of the ink and the perceived textures, as well as the tactility of the paper itself. On the other hand, I’m not averse to working with “new” paper, which means that many of my collages also have photographs that I take myself. I don’t work with just any paper, if you look at my work you will find very few “vintage” things or magazines, I prefer books.
What do you search for when you are going through the materials, what catches your attention first? Do you prefer specific kinds of materials?
I like photography, that’s the first thing I look for, then I examine the quality of the paper and what it suggests to me, for example in the series I did for “Urdimbre” the exhibition in Madrid this October, I worked with vintage papers, and reproductions of original photographs of my family. It’s like in the series “relaciones electivas”, also a very figurative series. This is not very common in my work, as I like to work much more with abstraction. However, in both cases, the material “shouted” the way it wanted to be used.
What influences you as an artist? And how do things influence you?
What influences me most is poetry and literature. Reading makes me create imaginary worlds that seek an outlet in the artistic image. Music is also important because it is about composition and collage. Nature also influences me, I live very close to the forest and the daily walk with my dog leads me to find answers to problems that the paper raises for me.
What do your art and collaging mean to you?
Art saves. It saves me. I can’t imagine another life without it. That is my truth.
Collage is my language and my philosophy. It is my way of life. I am a collage.
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?