Artist Statement

Art has always been my first language in the world and collage allows me to communicate exactly the way I want. I come from a family of artists. Growing up we moved around, by age 13 I’d been to 10 schools. It was hard to keep friends and an early memory is being 5 and drawing a life-size bear in blue pastel on my bedroom wall that became my best friend. I find the images that inspires my pieces wherever I go: plane, train, automobile, trading post, mountain top. Countless pieces of hand-cut paper culled from over a decade’s worth of leafing through vintage and contemporary books, magazines, and leaflets. They create a kaleidoscopic effect that is released onto the canvas by hands, scissors, gel medium, acrylic and oil.

The beautiful mess of cultures, spiritualities, shared histories and epic landscapes this world over are why I make work. I’m moved by the ways our planet has been worshipped and defiled and the ability for it to come back again with its Eastern cathedrals of forest and panoramic horizons of the West. Surrounded by the ruins of historical injustice I am weary of technology. I am drawn instead to the act of wandering throughout the American West, where time is on the loose and one is reminded of the raw beauty that surrounds us and our seemingly endless penchant for violence. My work has a specific lens on the First Nations people of North America but I follow a trail of broken promises the world over. The bullied and persecuted come too and I find beauty in this quilt of many colors.

– Vanessa Compton