Summer Solace

So far summer is refreshingly normal at home in Western North Carolina, where neighbors can once again congregate. We dedicated a porch addition to the community building and sat down together for a meal for the first time since Fall 2019. Here’s the sign I made (paper cutouts collaged onto heavy brown wrapping paper)

I finished my last pandemic art series for the present. The six collages are inspired by Edward Gorey. My mixed media and bright color palette are very different from his style but I was drawn to his languid lizard-like characters, women fading into ornamental wall paper, leaping dancers, and odd lurkers. Most of these collages contain parts of the candy bar wrappers that I collected for months, as I ate mounds of chocolate.

Titles (left to right)

Walk in the Garden, Dancing Alone, Mystery Meal, Coffee Hour, The Library, Picnic

Carl and I traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania in June, and were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected art opportunities. Goggle Works (below, at dusk) is a former mid 20th c. factory known for safety gear that now serves as a very popular set of artists’ studios and gallery spaces.

We saw a fine wood working exhibit of early modernist pieces by Wharton Esherick and contemporary work by followers of his style. Here is a sculptural music stand by Esherick.

We also discovered an alley behind the main commercial street of West Reading that hosted several blocks of colorful murals. It is such a wonderful surprise for urban strollers and must be a source of pride for the residents.

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Life is Still a Little Weird

But it’s getting better all the time, just different, sort of like a renewal.

For World Collage Day this year I began making a banner for the reopening of our community center. I hope to get some neighbors involved with it later this month, placing and gluing some of the birds and flowers you see collected to the left

I also made a matching game using digital images of the 25 collages I’d done for the group collage project in March, using square MOO business cards. This was easy and fun to do, and using it forces me to work my memory.

Now I’m completing a series of collages on the weirdness that still permeates life in late spring 2021, even though the pandemic is on the wane here in the US (permanently? Or not?) Certainly, it’s time to get on with things but we are changed nonetheless. I’m reminded of scenes from ordinary life, made strange and sometimes creepy by Edward Gorey. So that’s the sensibility for these collages, which I plan to compile in a picture book.

I’ve put together an exhibit proposal based on some of the work I did this year and sent it off to a North Carolina gallery that hosts visiting artists. We’ll see if anything comes of it. Here’s an excerpt:

“Collage can be said to create order from chaos, but I think of it as permutation. One collage leads to another. Surely the pandemic era challenges us to continually remake ourselves.  The works in this exhibit represent my process of renewal and they challenge expectations of what art should be, and what it should be for. I envision “nomadic” art, scrolls backed with Tyvek that can be hung as easily in a tent or a tiny house as on a wall. I participate in community art projects, create game tiles, and make artists’ books. The exhibit addresses all of these.”

Later this month I’m starting an online short course on archival practice. The course focus will be on historical archives, and I’m interested in projects of that sort. But I’ll also be thinking about archives as they relate to the arts, whether that’s saving records generated by artists, musicians and writers in the course of their production, or the use of archives as subject material for art.

Here’s an example of a program for collage artists linking art with historical concepts, using archival imagery:

Here are a couple of novels that make fictional use of archives:

The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky

And here are a couple of artists who create assemblages that resemble fictional archives

Joseph Cornell (well known mid 20th century NY collage artist)

Aldwyth (lesser known collage and assemblage artist and somewhat hermit, coastal SC)

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Navigating World Collage Day

World Collage Day, hosted by Kolaj Institute and Magazine, is an international event held annually in May. This year’s collage day is May 8. All over the world, people make collages for the sheer joy of turning chaos into beauty. A special addition of Kolaj Magazine includes sheets of images to cut out and use however one likes. Many people also use rubbish and other found papers. They add paint or make marks. They tear paper, build layers, use glue or thread or staples. Really, anything goes. They exhibit mostly on Instagram.

Here’s a project I’m participating in for World Collage Day (WCD) 2021:

Fear of Navigating Parenthood

This 8mm by 8mm ( about 3 inch square) collage was to be my contribution to the 2021 version of “Circulaire 231,” a WCD event hosted by Quebec-based artist RF Cote. He produces a short-run magazine with all the collages he receives from around the world. You can see RF’s own collage work at

But when I looked up the address so I could mail my collage to him, I realized I was supposed to send 25 collages, not just one. So I got busy. I decided I needed a theme to help me get this done, and since the first one looked to me like “fear of navigating” and I could think of lots of ways to be fearful of navigating, the chase was on. Below are 24 versions of phobia.

Fear of Navigating

Below are a few of my favorites with titles. Some of the others must have meanings that are buried in my subconscious. Please keep in mind these are not my personal fears—well, in some if not all cases that’s true.

Fear of Navigating Authority

Fear of Navigating Wildlife

Fear of Navigating Exposure

Fear of Navigating Alternative Medicine

Fear of Navigating Tight Spaces

Fear of Navigating Sex

Fear of Navigating Technology

Fear of Navigating Life Away from Home

Fear of Navigating Self Expression

Fear of Navigating Contact with Strangers

I’m really not a fearful person (other than sometimes behind the steering wheel of a car in South Carolina).

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Restless hands, sore arm

March has been my vaccination month, and while I’ve been glad to get the shots it’s been a troublesome time—hard to concentrate. In such circumstances I revert to keeping my hands busy by using up “stuff” and not thinking too much about it til an end result presents itself.

My workspace in South Carolina

I made some background paper for more collage banners

I made a birthday card for my son living in Japan. I used a cut out page designed by Elena Ohlander as her contribution to the 2020 World Collage Day event (more on WCD in my next post).

You can see Elena’s work at Next, I got crafty.

And I used left over material to make “Slither.” She is filled with old rice, beans, and corn kernels from my pantry. She stretches out at the base of a door to prevent drafts from seeping in.

Using up odds and ends was satisfying and helped me get through my vaccination month. I highly recommend it. My advice: don’t worry too much about what you’ll do with it or whether it will last very long. It’s just “making stuff.”

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Hanging at home

Like many of us fortunate enough to have food on the table and a place to live, I am simply getting restless.

Alone Together with Too Much Chocolate

Here’s the same imagery for a “cut out page” I submitted to a special addition of Kolaj Magazine. Collage artists everywhere look forward to getting this issue so they can cut it up and make art on World Collage Day (May 8, 2021).

Get ready to cut and glue some stuff this spring! It’s easy and fun.

Hanging out and hanging on, still trying to get vaccinated, like most people I know. Feeling fortunate I have some place to go.

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A Year of Wonders and Woes

It’s been several years since I’ve written posts. But the past year gave me a new sense of artistic direction. A pandemic can do that for certain creative types. Rather than add much here, I’ll direct you to:

There’s lots of my work for March through October 2020, and some text explaining it.

Viral Debate

Hopefully, there’s more on the way. Also, check out for some great collage inspiration.

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In March I’ll ramp up efforts for an exhibit in July and a class next October. But for the past month I’ve processed my disappointment in and frustration with the new administration. Time will tell whether policy becomes more thoughtful, whether we are made “safer,” and whether any money is saved.

I have started writing my Senators. I designed a set of post cards and a sticker that I enclose in letters. These are for my benefit. They make writing fun. My key image is an Angry Guy.  He’s a symbol not a portrait.

He could be any Angry Guy, or he could be Trump, Stalin, Nixon, Bannon, you can take your pick. The very day we heard about the “well oiled machine” I was creating my own version of the Machine (below).


These are all attached here (angry-guy-stickers-copysay-no-talk-backwell-oiled-machine ) I copyrighted the Angry Guy, so be my guest. Print him out and send him to anyone you’d like. I’ve also put him on Redbubble. There’s even some (not-by-Ivanka) clothing to wear to rallies and so on.

Last weekend, I attended an exhibit of fifty spectacular examples of the Qu’ran on loan from Turkey to the Sackler Museum in Washington DC. I have never been in an exhibit so packed with all kinds of people, ranging from folks that looked just like me to women in full burka. I’ve attached a few pictures of the children’s events held that weekend. This was uplifting and it gave me hope.




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Wandering in 2017

In the wake of the presidential election, I plan to spend the winter and early spring NOT making new art. I have my own plan for artistic rejuvenation, and I look forward to the process.  The end result should be some new artwork by July, when I’m scheduled to exhibit again, but I’m not clear as to what it will be. Please check back in late spring for something more concrete. I’m not going away but I may fall silent for a while. Here, just for the record, is my plan of study, or rather my gut reaction as to what I need to do.

Among other things, I’m exploring the latest in board games. This is somewhat painful for me as some of them are fairly complicated.  This one, Dead of Winter – Longest Night, takes up my dining room table.  It has strong narrative, elegant graphics (even the zombies) and secret betrayers, making it an asymmetrical cooperative game.  That is just my cup or tea.



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Telling a New Tale

I took a break in November, following a class called “Every Picture Tells a Story” taught by sculptor and collage artist Melissa Stern. I’ll write more about that class later;  it was excellent.

For now, I’m posting a few pictures (from that class) because they point me in a new direction.  I’ve turned from paper cutting to collage: some torn paper and Tyvek along with hard-edged cuts, and some found imagery (Dover bugs, lizards, snakes) combined with some free-hand cut imagery (“drawn” with scissors).

Here’s a figure from “Slovenly Peter” (a 19th German book of manners for children, reissued many times) that I integrated into a class exercise based on “a memory about eating cake.” Perhaps Augustus Gloop, the little guy seated at the table (a cut out from an illustration in S-P),  ate more cake than was good for his digestion.

Lillian Trettin_artwork

Most stories in “Slovenly Peter” (as in the original “Grimms Fairytales”) do not end well.  Today’s parents might call them “politically incorrect.” But they are catchy, and the illustrations are charming.  The dissonance is  rather fascinating. Working with this material could be my next literary-art  challenge.

The dark recesses of childhood might also be responsible for this next sequence.

Lillian Trettin_artwork_collages

Run Away

Running for fun, running without aim, running to escape–maybe this work’s best understood as an exercise in interactive storytelling.  The less predetermined the visual story, the more invested the viewer will be in telling her own version.  The key is to provide clues and spark a viewer’s  storytelling process, without completely predetermining the tale.

Lillian Trettin_artwork_image

Lillian Trettin_artwork_image

These are “exercises” rather than finished art, and somewhat unlovely, but after scratching my head for a month while I looked at them, I have an idea what to do next.

It comes as something of a surprise.

But after a month, I’ve decided to try my hand at designing a board game, something  dark and swampy, with many potential paths to fruition and a few disastrous dead ends.




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Two Openings, Charleston

Here are a few pictures of the other two exhibits I participated in this fall. This is it for me for a while. My plan this year is to become more involved in community arts, and perhaps something in art education.

To that ends, I am taking a one-week class at Penland School of Craft with  Melissa Sterns on “drawing for narrative art.” Sterns is a New York-based artist who produced “The Talking Cure,” one of the Spoleto exhibits in Charleston that I wrote about last summer.

The Dark Edge: Art Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe (below) –  A solo exhibit

The Dark Edge_art work

On and Off the Page: Book Arts (below) – approximately 40 artists from multiple states

Click here for a review in the Charleston City Paper

Trettin_art work

Trettin art work

Trettin_art work_books

Trettin books


across from my work:  Kit Loney (left)  Mary Walker (right)


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