Collage artist Adrienne Slane uses century-old paper to tell contemporary stories

Interview by Rosalie Murphy

Adrienne Slane is a collage artist — and she pretty much always has been. 

“Ever since I was little, I’ve been cutting out images and categorizing them and collaging with them,” Adrienne says. 

She studied art in high school and attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, and now creates from her home in rural Geauga County. She spends a lot of time gardening and hiking, which “has definitely had an impact on my work,” she says. 

Adrienne’s piece, “She Walketh Veiled and Sleeping No Longer,” appears on the cover of the December issue of The Devil Strip. It is currently on view at the Emily Davis Gallery, located inside the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron, and will remain there until Jan. 22. Adrienne will have another work on view at the Akron Art Museum this spring. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Rosalie Murphy: What is your process like? 

Adrienne Slane: The most time-consuming part of my process is hunting for the materials I work with. For example, in “She Walketh ,” I sourced the paper that I’ve used from dozens and dozens of old books and ledgers and letters,so I’m looking at library book sales, book and paper fairs, thrift stores, antique stores, et cetera. I’m finding paper that’s around 100 years old. 

The second part of the process is cutting them out and then sorting them. I have a very detailed organizing system. Then, when I go to make an actual piece, it’s about playing around, almost as if it’s a puzzle, mixing and matching pieces… it’s a pretty organic process. Once I find a composition that I find visually pleasing, I adhere everything with archival glue. 

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RM: A lot of your work deals with the natural world and images of nature. Tell me about the that.

AS: I’ve always been drawn to the concept of a cabinet of curiosity — people gathering elements from nature, whether it’s stones or plant specimens or bones or rocks or what have you, and creating this world of wonder to appreciate the beauty of these objects. I like my work to reflect this collection of these natural elements. It also pays homage to the illustrations, images that were created 100, 200, 300 years ago. I think it’s important to re-establish that appreciation or wonder, because we live in a time when our environment is in crisis, and I think if we could appreciate the beauty and wonder of even the smallest elements in nature, maybe it could help us create a better relationship to the world around us. 

RM: What’s the story behind “She Walketh Veiled and Sleeping No Longer,” the piece on our cover this month?


AS: The show at the Emily Davis Gallery is a celebration of the women’s suffrage movement and the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave the right to some women to vote. For this piece, I was drawn to a writer named Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who’s probably most famous for The Yellow Wallpaper. She wrote a poem called She Walketh Veiled and Sleeping, and in this poem she talks about women not realizing their power because they’ve been suppressed in society. I was thinking of this flow of knowledge and life, almost like this cosmos, coming from a woman. I was almost thinking of a Garden of Eden, where Eve is pursuing knowledge, so we have this tangle of plants and animals, but also these symbols of domesticity and femininity, like a pair of scissors. I was also looking at traditional women’s crafts — women were often denied the ability to access things like painting and sculpture, so they were working with materials that were easily accessible, like scraps of fabric and paper. 

To learn more about Adrienne’s work, visit adrienneslane.com. 

Rosalie Murphy is Editor-in-Chief of The Devil Strip.

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