‘Tantalizing little pieces,’ Crary Art Gallery welcomes collage works of Elissa Davis

Photo submitted to Times Observer Bell Tower At Night.

“The works are tantalizing little pieces,” said Thomas Paquette, a member of the Crary Art Gallery’s board of directors. Speaking of the collages that Warren native Elissa Davis will present at the gallery’s opening on Saturday, Paquette went on to say that “they are delicate and precisely done. I’ve been hoping we’d have a chance to see Elissa’s collages at the Crary since I first saw them a couple of years ago.”

Davis has been carrying her camera with her on hikes since the age of six, and her interest in collage started during sixth grade. Her art teacher that year was teaching students how to make simple designs like yin yangs, said Davis, but she decided to do a soccer ball, even going so far as to collage individual blades of grass for her project.

Davis said that after a trip to Italy during her final year of college, she returned to the technique, recreating photographs of her trip with minute scraps cut from the pages of magazines. Davis said she even took the time to match the shades of the colors in her photographs, intricately recreating each scene. Over the years, Davis said, she’s used a wide variety of the places she’s visited – including the wild areas of Warren County — in her collages, reproducing them one tiny piece at a time.

Davis said that she really enjoys the intricacy of collaging architecture, but has recently taken on a new subject – that of pets. “I did a collage of a bird recently,” said Davis, “and the feathers were a lot of fun to do. I thought, why couldn’t I do fur too?” Davis said that her and her boyfriend’s cats will be the subjects of upcoming projects.

Davis’ show is titled “Fractured Views,” given the process she uses of taking shards of magazine pages to recreate vivid, intricate moments in time. “You look at them from far away,” said Davis, “and they just look like photographs but when you get right up close to them you can see all of the little pieces.”

Lake Chautauqua is one setting that seems to repeat in Davis’ work, as to nature scenes from right here in Warren, giving her show a local appeal. “I really like doing water, and the reflections of things in water,” said Davis. Since she spends her summers at Chautauqua, she said she began collaging scenes from there as souveniers and mementos.

Aside from being an artist, Davis is a long-term substitute teacher with the Warren County School District, as well as being active in community theater, civic orchestra, city council, and other local organizations. “She uses what leisure time she has remaining to caputre more images with her camera and turn them into these small, yet complex, and textural works,” said Paquette.

The show opens — along with Michel Varisco’s “Neheh” — fro, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, with gallery talks scheduled for 7 p.m.

For more information visit www.craryartgallery.org.