Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Waste Land Montage [from the archives]

Waste Land Montage | digital art | 11"x14" | 1997



April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
--T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land"

Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought now would be a good time to share this digital montage I did back in 1997 for my freshman year humanities class to illustrate T.S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land". I had a lot of fun putting this one together. I used all kinds of illustrations. You might even recognize a few of them. Here's what I wrote about it:

In my “Waste Land” montage, I decided to display images with the text because I felt that the two complement and supplement one another. When I began developing the concept of the montage, one of the first things that I thought of was the fragmentation of the poem. I decided that the picture should visually represent the fragmentation, which is why I didn’t blend various images together as I did in a few of the other montages. Instead, I selected a menagerie of images, from paintings, to sculptures, to photographs and prints. I use Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” as a background because I felt that the surrealist painting portrays many of Eliot’s themes. Like “The Waste Land,” it gives the viewer a sense of barrenness and desolation. I also use desert landscapes because they are representative of the poem’s recurrent imagery.
The people I chose represent the diverse array of speakers in the poem. Many are familiar images, such as the couple with the umbrella from a Gustave Caillebotte painting, Rodin’s “The Thinker,” and the woodcut of Cosette from Les Miserables. The people are representative of Eliot’s contemporaries and predecessors, as well as their characters. To show that the poem is told from multiple viewpoints, I gave each one a different speech balloon and quote from the poem.


Click to see the larger image.

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