Theater & art

Behind the Scenes

South Shore collage show turns images into ‘Visual Poetry’

Untitled, mixed media collage, 2012.
Joe Norris
Untitled, mixed media collage, 2012.

The six artists contributing to the new “Visual Poetry” show at the South Shore Art Center fashion their collages and mixed-media works out of bits and pieces.

Joe Norris of Stoughton uses scraps of paper with examples of typefaces collected from his days of design work with clients such as New Balance. The paint on his collages comes from various sources, mostly acrylic but including a sample of deck paint.

As Norris put it last week, “A lot of what they tell you not to do, you have to do.”


Opening Friday at the art center in Cohasset, “Village Poetry” “blurs the lines between text and image, narrative and pure formal composition,” said Kaitlin Thurlow, the center’s program manager. “Using ephemera, nostalgic imagery, and a playful use of mixed media, these six artists push the limits of collage.”

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Sarah Hannan, the center’s executive director, said Thurlow “likes to put together shows that have a theme.”

The center’s gallery artists invited to take part in “Visual Poetry,” besides Norris, are Marion Carlson of Abington, a mixed-media artist and teacher; print-maker Elizabeth Lilly of Hull; Stephanie Roberts-Camello of Pembroke, an abstract painter and mixed-media artist; Regina Thomas of New Haven, who specializes in multi­layered collage and mixed media; and Mary Wilkas of Han­over, who uses wax in her mixed media, and works exclusively with abstract imagery.

For Norris, a graphic designer and abstract artist, even the term ephemera — a word that to artists means written or printed memorabilia of only short-term significance — has no literal meaning for his work. In an untitled work in this show, a line of type with the words “Babe Ruth pointing to the fence” appears only for the visual interest of the design.

For Roberts-Camello, “Visual Poetry” is a show about collage, mixed media, and abstraction. The six pieces she’s showing were begun last winter and share a palette of mostly blacks, browns, and blues.


“With abstraction, I just begin working,” the artist said. “With every mark you make, you’re always looking for some kind of balance.” Each mark helps you choose the next one, she said.

Lilly’s work uses “pear” images in both real and abstract ways. “It’s playful and a little bit surreal,” Thurlow said.

Her piece “Pear of Hands” depicts a plump pear with a pair of short arms extending from its middle.

An art teacher, Lilly made pear-shaped ceramic molds in a pottery course, but then the concept took off. Playing with the image of the pear “became an obsession,” Lilly said. Her nine small (4x4-inch) collages employ photo etchings and she frames them with three-dimensional shadow boxes. Her titles derive from wordplay.

Carlson’s abstract collage “Spatial Connection” began with lines drawn over the back of the canvas. Then she pulled out an image and shaped it within a color palette and thought she was finished.


“But sometimes paintings talk to you,’’ she said. She later laid sewing pattern paper over the canvas and used the lines of the patterns to suggest another “outer space” element to the composition.

“Then finally it came together and I was happy,” she said. When an artist thinks a painting has succeeded, it’s like an athlete’s “yes” moment, she said.

Robert Knox can be reached at