Lynn Skordal is a collage artist living in Mercer Island, Washington. She creates surreal, Dadaist dreamscapes using images from magazines, books and other ephemera. Strangely familiar, each image is an exploration of Real Places That Don’t Exist. If you could take a glimpse of the dreams of an LCD-addled Lewis Carroll, they’d look something like Skordal’s work. Skordal has appeared on Kollage Kit and Empty Kingdom.
Skordal describes herself as curious, “lazy and non-public”, but she gave The Daily Spread an insight into the world of a retired-lawyer-come-artist, free of charge.
The Daily Spread: What materials/equipment do you use to collage?
Lynn: Most of my work involves paper and thread. I have a large and motley collection of books rescued from local thrift stores, National Geographics from the early 1940’s, new magazines (GQ, Esquire, House Beautiful, Vanity Fair, Elle Décor), and miscellaneous paper from everywhere. I’ve used paper scraps picked up off the sidewalk, stamps and images torn from envelopes, cuttings from a huge 1952 Webster’s International Dictionary that weighs about 20 pounds and is also useful for weighing down projects after gluing, and old engravings removed from a series of disintegrating 1894 books called “Great Men and Famous Women.” I’m not a purist about my sources. But the technique is always old-style collage with scissors and glue (not digital) because the tactile component is important to me. I like to feel the uneven glued lines and the mixed textures of old-fashioned collage.
Why do you choose to re-appropriate existing images instead of drawing/painting/creating your own?
When I started doing art full time about five years ago, I did a little of everything – drawing, watercolours, linoleum printing, etc. – but I quickly came to focus on collage, its playfulness, and the opportunity you have to form new little realities that might startle or amuse. I juxtapose images and textures from unrelated sources. It amuses me to use the work of early photographers and bits and pieces from paintings by Old Masters, mixing them together to make a new little reality. Michelangelo, meet Albert Arthur Allen.
Your works evoke the surrealism of dreamscapes. What inspires you?
Most of my work is reactive. I might see a photo of a woman and think: what if that woman were sitting in a vacant apartment and there was something intriguing in the background, perhaps disembodied hands strung from the ceiling, say.
This week I’ve been using one image of naked woman from a series of 1930’s nude study photographs and putting her in a variety of places; so far she’s appeared
(1) standing at the edge of a rocky seacoast taken from a late 1900’s Photochrome postcard,
(2) standing partially clothed in flowing fabric from a 13th century drapery study drawing, perched on a rock formation in Iceland called Hvitserkur from a travel photo I shot a couple years ago,
(3) and in a dreamy landscape that’s been sitting in my computer files for ages.
Who knows where she’ll go next?
Which artists drives you to greater things?
Right now I am enjoying looking at the work of several sculptors, including Andy Goldsworthy and Martin Puryear; portraits painted by Lucien Freud; illustrations by Helga Aichinger; old watercolors by Eric Ravilious; and the graphic work of Farshid Mesghali.
If you had a cocktail named after you, what would be in it?
Grapefruit juice, a dash of some kind of sweetish red fruity syrup, and vodka. (Laughs.) I’ll think I’ll go have one right now!