The medium of collage is a significant element of art history, whether the cubist collages of Picasso, Matisse’sMatisse’s paper cuts, the assemblages of Robert Rauschenberg, or the photomontages of John Baldessari. But an understated role of collage is a vessel for Black American existence, representation, and history. My work is rooted in this searching, discovering, and repurposing of the Black American existence, representation, and history. Beginning with my own family, I confront history through multiple forms of collage. Family archives are converted into cereal boxes. Major American magazines are updated and forced to unveil their past practices. Oral narratives are reborn and appropriated Black photographs of every era become murals for the present. With Deep Cuts, I seek to present my work and reexamine the status of collage in the art historical canon, attempting to cement collage as a tool for Black liberation and social justice, capable of reversing the historical violence against the Black body performed with cameras, media representations and other forms of anti-Blackness. Brief histories of collage art collide with the erasure and oppression of Black people, leading into a discussion about art, race, and how collage plays a role in all of our lives.
Biography: Tay Butler is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Houston and studying Fayetteville, AR. Currently, an MFA candidate of the University of Arkansas ‘Arkansas’ Photography and Studio Art program, Tay received his BFA in Photography and Digital Media from the University of Houston. Retiring from the US Army and abandoning a dream engineering career to search for purpose, Tay reignited a rich appreciation for Black history and a deep love for imagery. With the Great Black Migration as the launching point, Tay creates a historically-layered body of work and permeates his work with the present-day and archival Black experience, submerged in the histories, realities, and theories that influence them. Tay is consistently building a portfolio of photography, collage/assemblage, video, music, and sound exhibitions and installations. Solo exhibitions of his work include RE. Migrant I & II at Project Row Houses, Houston, TX. Group exhibitions featuring his work have been seen in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Modified Arts, Phoenix, AZ. Performance exhibitions include Jefferson Pinder’s Fire and Movement for Diverse Works, Houston. Tay teaches Collage and Fundamentals courses for the University of Arkansas and has taught private and community workshops for Project Row Houses and The Center for Fine Art Photography.