In conversation with collage artist Maike Rohrer from Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, Germany.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
Since I can remember I was drawing or gluing something. When I was a little girl and was asked, what I want to be, I answered, I want to be an artist when grown up, later I said I wanted to become an art teacher. In the time when I was old enough to decide, I was seeking challenges trying to become an actress, a theatre painter or a goldsmith.
In my heart I always wanted to study arts, but the sufficient courage was missing. I couldn’t imagine making my living through selling my arts and connected with that selling myself as an artist. So I started to study something ‘practical’ and chose German and Philosophy. But I changed my mind. In combination with my interest in people, I wanted to do something with my hands. At the end I decided in being a goldsmith. An ideal combination for me between creating a piece of art in a short period of time, making someone look better or giving the piece of art an emotional meaning to the person itself.
During my education at a Zeichenakademie (Drawing Academy, a school for goldsmiths) in Hanau, Germany, which was based on the Bauhaus principles, which means starting to draw bodies and nature to learned the basics first, I was not recognising in the beginning, that I stopped painting.
My drawings were interpreted and judged by my teachers. Suddenly I had to paint not out of my free will, but out of an enforcement implied by others. They adored and loved what I did, but I felt pressure and so without realising, I didn’t paint or draw any more for my art. Instead I expressed my creativity through the collages. No one tried to educate me in one or the other way.
Can you talk about the influences upon your work?
Dadaism and especially the Readymades by Marcel DuChamp. I love Egon Schiele and Claude Monet. Often photographers like Man Ray and Aenne Biermann. Surrealistic art like the work of Meret Oppenheim and the boxes of Joseph Cornell.
But I have the faith that there can be art in everyday things which surround us. It’s the viewer’s gaze which makes the art. The beauty or stunning in the casual things of our surrounding. Two persons can look at the same image and have completely different feelings and opinions.
You say you work quickly and prefer not to over think. I believe many of us suffer from overthinking, can you talk about how you do this, are there strategies you put in place to allow this to happen?
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
In opposition to painting and drawing, while creating collages, I feel absolutely free. Without my awareness it was always was a band to my emotions and intuition. I make no sketches and start without any plans or ideas.
I collect a lot of smaller or larger pictures or parts of them and cut them out of their old circumstances and after that I start to put these little bits into new surroundings. I always work on a lot of collages at the same time. Sometimes I put them aside for years and then at one point I can finish a picture. I cut old works into pieces or tear bits off and change it completely. It is a feeling of being ready. I can see it but I can’t explain it.
It is impossible to get a magazine in my hands without finding bits and pieces I can use for my work. But it is harder than 20 years ago, because the quality of the magazines changed.
It depends on my everyday life how often I work on my art. I used to work in the evenings, but at the moment I try to spent 1 to 2 hours every morning before my usual time to get up.
Before COVID-19 I had the feeling that I am done with doing collages. It is over, I was thinking about throwing all my little parts in the garbage. I was looking for inspiration and thinking about an Instagram account for a couple of months, but not sure if I should dare to present my art. Then I decided there is nothing to lose and I found more inspiration than I was hoping for in so many good works of artists I am following. And I can feel this is working inside of me.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
I find the work on my collages relaxing, most of the time. Often, I am in my own world while working on a collage and for that I lose the time surrounding me. After years I can see things more clearly, I wasn’t aware of, while doing the work of art. So probably they are therapeutically.
For my collages I don’t use sketchbooks but from time to time I use and old collage as a kind of sketchbook to make a painting or drawing. A couple of years ago I turned back to painting. For that I use sketchbooks. And I use a kind of sketchbook, I call them Reminders or Idea books as a kind of diary.