I hope it’s seen as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the complexities of being a woman in our society and that it gives people a little chuckle in the process. — Donna Morello
Full disclosure: Donna Morello and I went to high school together, but we weren't friends because she was way too cool (in the best possible way). Even after I moved back to our hometown and heard that she was offering free collage workshops at the local library, I was too intimidated by her awesomeness to show up. Eventually, we crossed paths enough times that I got to know her and learned that she's not only super cool and awesome, she's also funny and wacky and brilliant, and values big talk as much as I do. Sometimes I'm invited to her house to make art with her husband Jason, who's also a pretty cool guy. Donna's house is like an art workshop / gallery, and when I saw her collages it crossed my mind that they might be perfect for an issue of West Trestle. And they are! I'm so glad she agreed to share her work with us.
Patricia Caspers: What brought you to collage?
Donna Morello: I’ve always been a maker (sewing shoulder bags out of Astro turf, drawing portraits of friends and family that looked nothing like them), but it wasn’t until I started working at the Nevada County Library in 2017 that my collage obsession was ignited. It all began with an art accountability project with a co-worker. Every week we would pass a discarded children’s book back and forth after transforming one of the pages into a new work of art. After playing with several mediums, all of my contributions quickly turned to collage.
PC: What are you looking for when you bring images together?
DM: Often an image will speak to me or make me laugh. The look on someone’s face, or a certain pose begs to be turned into something else. Other times I’ll be in a mood and look for the images, colors patterns that tell the story I need to tell. I especially love photo images from the 1960’s and 1970’s, the colors are so saturated and the style is unmatchable.
I’m also a huge fan of juxtaposition. One of my favorite pieces is a close up of a woman in repose wearing red lipstick and nail polish, hand to forehead, surround by cherry blossoms. It’s all very feminine, passive, and dreamy. So, I tore out the space where her eyes were and replaced them with pack of wolves crossing the ice. I hope it’s seen as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the complexities of being a woman in our society and that it gives people a little chuckle in the process.
PC: How often are you making art? What gets in your way? (Assuming that something does).
DM: I used to be in the habit of making art every night. I currently only work on art two to three times a week. Sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes a couple of hours. I’m considering it a tinkering stage. I tend to get stalled out when my ideas feel stale, when it’s time to learn something new, or when the TV show I’m into gets really, really good.
PC: What’s your work space like?
DM: Years ago my husband and I turned our front room into an art space. It was the least used room in the house until we gave ourselves permission to do what we wanted with it. The biggest change was placing a large table in the middle of the room with enough space to have several projects happening at once or to use as gathering space to make art with friends. Now it’s the most used room in the house.
PC: I want to do this! It's brilliant. What are you listening to while you make art?
DM: I’m currently listening to XTC, Habibi, The Pogues, and Brooke Benton.
Jan / Feb 2024
Donna Morello makes analog collage, handcut originals, and occasionally is a historical recontextualist altering the past one cut at a time.
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