“Puzzlage” was a community art project I organized as part of a class this semester and was borne out of a desire to find something collaborative to do while still at a distance. The premise is simple: I asked friends to create and send me a picture of a collage they made over the course of a few days. I then printed their collages in order to cut them up and create something new from their work.
Over the summer, I found that collage as a medium is fascinatingly therapeutic—there’s something interesting about a medium with the potential to be simultaneously cheeky, deep, beautiful, fragmented, and cohesive. It is very much like how a human mind and heart work, with various elements and thoughts floating around. Collaging became something that taught me much about my prayer life through its slow, accessible process—gathering ideas and words that stuck out to me, selecting, arranging, and connecting them, and then laying them out and presenting them. Similarly, I do this with my thoughts and emotions in prayer laying them out to say, “Okay, Lord, here it is. Take and do what you will with it.” And then being surprised by how the Lord changes my perspective or convicts me with it all in my submission. My hope with this project was to offer that experience to others as we social-distanced and found ourselves like a collage, apart but together.
Thank you again to the Puzzlage participants! Here are their names, in order of collage appearance:
Alissa Olivo, Anna Miller, Sarah Johnson, Dr. Moshier, Isabelle Vavra, Matthew Bianco, and Natalie Kral.
The overarching theme of this final collage ended up being redemption. It’s full of contemplation over our willingness to accept the opportunity God offers us of redemption, no matter how difficult or (according to our “rules”) how “unprecedented” the process is. Phrases like “Sorry! You’re still worthy, still loved.” make me think of how God loves us enough to offer us redemption even when we don’t want it or His way of doing it. We need not fear but trust in His redemptive plan (Isaiah 41:10). Perhaps we can respond with, “I can’t wait to see what you do. I must admit, it was a rough time, but we took it for granted—geophysical shalom.”
What most strikes me is that even though no one necessarily shared their collages amongst one another, people were drawn to similar ideas and images (for instance, Sarah, who lives in my town and has never been to my school, created a yellow butterfly with the idea of unconditional love for the broken in mind. Alissa, my schoolmate (who doesn’t even know Sarah, to my knowledge), placed yellow wings behind a description from a package of pastels about how broken pastels are still useable. I’m also struck by the repeated natural imagery of the outdoors. I enjoyed stewing much over the poem my science professor, Dr. Moshier, added onto his Pangea collage (made from a homework activity he assigned us earlier in the semester). Lastly, many phrases/words incorporated come from screenshots of emails and texts I sent back and forth with each participant throughout the process.
I’m thankful that this finals project became a beautiful, communal activity for us to process this year—this life—together.
Bonus: The Puzzlage Playlist that I used as I was working on this project. Just a fun thing 🙂