Cheryl Molnar’s Unnatural Settings

I’ve been thinking about collages lately and have tentatively started to collect bits and pieces to get started, all referring to landscapes of course. And then I find this riveting image that I keep going back to by self-described “collage painter” Cheryl Molnar, found on Browsings, the Harper’s blog, that completely upends my idea of what a collage can be. Its complexity and depth really took me aback:

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Rollercoaster, a collage created using oil-painted paper and vintage magazine clippings by Cheryl Molnar, whose work is on view this week at Wave Hill House, in the Bronx, New York. Courtesy the artist and Wave Hill” — Browsings, the Harper’s blog

And from collage and multimedia artist Cheryl Molnar’s website, more Unnatural Settings:

The collage paintings are created through collaging strips of oil-stained paper onto natural birch panels. Architectural elements are carved directly into the wood and then stained with oil, creating permanent incisions into the wood itself, symbolizing the permanence of the altered landscape.”

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Weeping Willow, oil-painted paper and vintage magazine on wood panel, 2015

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Dining Room, oil-painted paper and vintage magazine on wood panel, 2015

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The Hamlet, oil, paper on wood panel 2011

Since my childhood in suburban Long Island, I have been attuned to the tension between human progress and nature. My work finds similar development patterns in the mixed-use neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I have lived and worked for the past ten years. During this time, real estate development, along with a fresh wave of gentrification, have significantly altered both the social fabric and the landscape of this formerly working-class enclave.” — from Smack Mellon

The Unnatural Settings exhibit will be held at a public garden I have yet to visit, Wave Hill, Bronx, New York. Ms. Molnar’s residency there inspired this work. (Here’s a partial itinerary for an imaginary summer trip to NYC: Wave Hill, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the High Line, etc., etc.)

Brooklyn-based artist Cheryl Molnar’s collage paintings are representations of fantastical, natural spaces in relationship to urban architectural forms. Molnar’s process involves lathering wood panels in oil, then etching and collaging them with manipulated and superimposed images. The technique involves layering painted paper and photographs of natural landscapes and jutting urban monumental fixtures. The scenery is cut-up and altered using long slivers of mixed papers that reference humanity’s inflicted alterations of nature. In a mosaic-like configuration they reveal vibrantly chopped asymmetrical forms simulating a surreal, transcendental world. There is a sense of depth, multi-dimensionality and rigidity in the composition that highlights the human/non-human divisions in nature. Superimposed skyscrapers and steel structures evoke hyperbolic fantasies of reimagined spaces, illuminating the charm of a utopic, idealized, urban wilderness. A 2014 Winter Workspace artist, Molnar drew inspiration from the Hudson River, Wave Hill’s greenhouses, national parks, suburban settings and lush, green spaces throughout the United States. The Headquarters and Rollercoaster images are indicative of the ominous but seductive pull of the looming burden of urban development. Inspired by Wave Hill’s Conservatory, Green House offers an optimistic possibility for greenhouse architecture. Weeping Willow references an overlook above Wave Hill’s Conifer Slope.” Wave Hill

Cheryl Molnar: Unnatural Settings
Tearoom, Wave Hill House | March 7- August 27, 2017

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7 Responses to Cheryl Molnar’s Unnatural Settings

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Incredible work by an extremely talented artist. Love the images you shared!

  2. Kris P says:

    Those are pretty fabulous, Denise. My favorite is the rollercoaster. My brother creates digital collages of a sort but I like the idea of composing them by hand with tangible materials. I hope you’ll share your own compositions one day!

  3. hb says:

    I’ll look forward to seeing what you create, Denise. Please share.

  4. Nell says:

    Would so love to visit Wave Hill, any time from late summer on — If only a person could just teleport there and back!

    Collage has always fascinated me. Have fun in your explorations, and thanks for this look at Carolyn Molnar’s work.

  5. Nell says:

    *Cheryl* Molnar.

  6. ks says:

    a far cry from the Lepages glue and Life Magazine photo collages of the 60’s that were all the rage. These are splendid.

  7. Denise says:

    @Peter, collage is another form of your stained glass work, right?
    @Kris & Hoov, I’ve got a long way to go before sharing!
    @Nell, I’ve been to NYC twice and neither time could fit in Wave Hill — so bummed!
    @Kathy, I hear you’ve got another East Coast trip brewing….maybe fit in NYC?

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