Amanda Bushman, a Milwaukee artist and alumna of Marquette, is helping keep the art of collage alive in our city. Collage is an art form established in the early 20th century by two well known artists - Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They coined the term collage, rooting it from the french word coller, meaning to stick or glue. Our advocate, Amanda, was born in Milwaukee and moved to Iowa to pursue her undergraduate degree in English, at Grinnell College. Once she accomplished this, she moved to Chapel Hill in North Carolina, where she was able to create works and even exhibit them in galleries. Bushman’s stars were aligned upon arrival - she was still new to the city and had yet to become a Chapel Hill socialite, so this gave her plenty of time to create her body of work. She desperately wanted to be identified as an artist, and found her passion in the art of collage.
Her first projects were inspired by “New York’s most famous unknown artist” - Ray Johnson. He was an artist with thousands of collages, done mostly on cardboard, who was last seen diving off a bridge and backstroking into the ocean - the last time he was seen alive. His body was said to have washed up on a beach the next day. There were hundreds of works later found at his home. Though Ray Johnson was perhaps a tortured one, his drive to design was enough to spark up the passion in Amanda. She started using cardboard and famous art pieces like Botticelli’s Venus as the base, and proceeded to construct new worlds.
Through Amanda’s ability to network and connect with local businesses she not only found the opportunity to exhibit her work, but also had much success selling them. Bushman didn’t stop there. As an outgoing artist, she built a rapport with her patrons. She often called them to inquire on how the art was sitting in their homes, or to ask if they could send over some shots of the displayed piece. She is curious of how her work looks hung in a private home versus a gallery, or sitting on a wall in her studio. Bushman’s goal is to contribute to creating a legitimate respect for the art of collage. She uses anatomical studies from the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century photography to create collage books. She’s fond of vintage magazines and has used many from the late 19th century along with 1920 posters, in addition to other materials to create her witty collages. Her work invites the viewer to acknowledge the original piece and then go a step forward and spot the collage additives. “It takes a lot of work to do these things, and it’s just as valid as painting or drawing,” she said. Her constant research in art history and art theory keeps her works complex and full of exciting surprises to be found.
Amanda has since returned to Milwaukee and is starting to exhibit her works. She has taken part in two exhibitions at The Highbury. This establishment still has one of her larger works on display today. The bar does monthly shows with featured artists. She was very successful in her first shows in Milwaukee. Almost everything she put up on display was purchased and now resides in Milwaukee homes. Currently Amanda is working on a mannequin collage, using cut-outs of anatomical studies from the early 20th century to convey the inside of the mannequin/human body. Her works can be found on her Instagram page; amandamaryxmas. Below are images of some of her work to-date, accompanied by descriptions of inspirations and her creative processes.
Written By: Jerrod Johnson
Edited By: Bethany Price