on the first tuesday of every month, the oracle club in long island city opens its otherwise members-only doors to caris reid’s collage class. described as a whimsical evening, each class is presented with a new theme to explore ranging from “iconoclasts” to “spirit animals”, or my assignment, “don’t be square”. caris provides unique, vintage, carefully combed material, a tightly curated grouping of images that fit the month’s theme. one week you might find gloved ladies from a 1950′s german fashion ad, brazen youth from a 1970s life magazine, or cloistered victorian photos. caris, an extremely talented painter as well as contributing editor for the arts & culture publication dossier journal, has said that it’s more about process than it is progress, and the intimate group session brings back the arts ‘n crafts of kindergarten, something i truly and actively miss. the space itself is enchanting too, a kind of whistler’s peacock room meets modern-day surrealist literary salon. in queens… just off the pulaski bridge.
the proprietors, julian (a novelist) and jenna (a painter who, i would like to point out this superlative distinction, was commissioned by sofia coppola to create replicas of 18th century period portraits for her film marie antoinette), are on hand serving specialty cocktails and to man the record player. opened in december of 2011, the oracle is a workspace for artists and writers and an arts club generating a ton of buzz. on nights like these, they welcome a rotating cast of crafters, enticing us to relax and let our imaginations, scissors and gluesticks run free. the class was wonderful, inspiring and surprisingly challenging. challenging because i thought i’d be a natural and when i wasn’t, i just want you to know that it sent me spiraling.
though my work does not appear here to protect what’s left of the author’s pride, the takeaways from collage class were surprisingly universal, transferable bits of wisdom germane to life in general and not just the folded up collage now near forgotten on my bedroom floor and days away from making the two ft. leap further into the recycling bin. we were talking about collages but we were really talking about our inner selves, weren’t we? class ended in a group critique where our wise instructor focused on the playful, brave, courageous choices made amongst us through color, texture and some “last minute decisions from the artist”. from caris i learned not to fear commitment (to glue) and that “you are going to have to commit sometime”. i learned to balance the expected with the unexpected, that editing is important. collage is so interesting because there are all these decisions that nobody else sees being made. sifting through patterns, shapes and textures, deciding to commit to a symmetrical moment or not, wide open spaces or none whatsoever. i confirmed a suspicion that editing is not my strong suit, nor is knowing when to put down the scissors and the glue.
special thanks to my partner in crafts & freshman year roommate for accompanying me.
classes are $20 at theoracleclub.com