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Q&A with Award Winner Frances Borchardt

If you haven’t been to see this month’s group show “Bedtime Stories” yet, you’re in for a treat! Artists responded to the theme of narrative art with pieces in all media, each telling a different tale: humorous, personal, obscure, and everything else. Juror Judy Greenberg chose the photographic collage New York Minute by Frances Borchardt as winner of the Amelia T. Clemente Family Award for best in show. We asked her to tell us a little more about the piece and her work in general.

What was your inspiration or motive for New York Minute?
Frances: New York Minute is a travelogue of one day spent in New York City. The photographs were all taken virtually in a straight line from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Staten Island Ferry.

"New York Minute" by Frances Borchardt

Is there a story behind any of the images?
The far right lowest compartment contains a photograph of me taken at the Empire State Building.

What do you want the viewer to come away with?
A unique glimpse of New York City, a “day in the life” collage.

Where do you see your work going next, or what are you working on now?
I’ve made several trips to New York recently. I plan to complete a series of type cases on subjects such as the Statute of Liberty, the High Line, the World Trade Center Memorial, Chinatown and the Roosevelt Tram.

How did you first start these kinds of montages and the unique way of displaying them?
I think of myself as a travel photographer. I shoot multiple images including detail shots to capture a sense of place. When I began to show my work I struggled with presenting single images, framing and how to set my work apart. Around the same time I’d purchased a type case at a yard sale. I found that it had all the characteristics I needed in order to present a visual journal.

After the jump, Frances discusses more of her artistic process and how collages can tell a story.

How has your work or approach changed since you began this type of piece?
Initially I placed images as mosaics or color studies. I soon realized I could capture a realistic scene or panorama by combining photographs. I also concentrate on a single image type case or create a case with multiples of a single image.

Why do you work in photography?
My father traveled a good deal when I was a child. He always came home with exotic slide shows of his adventures. I’m sure this was the beginning of my route to becoming a photographer. After studying photography at University of Maryland Baltimore Campus and Maryland Institute I began a career as a photo editor in the magazine and newspaper industry. This career choice developed my eye for visual storytelling.

What is your artistic process like?
I pre-visualize how a work will unfold in a type case. Once the images and type case are paired I work on placement, using various print sizes to accommodate the different compartment sizes. There is also the challenge of dealing with the curve of the photograph once it’s placed into a compartment. Multiple copies of the same image are used to create an uninterrupted line.

Is one technical element most important in your work — color, composition, line, etc?
I suppose line is the most important element to the type cases. I’ve made several architectural studies and while the overall image may have multiple doors, roofs or windows an uninterrupted line carries the eye and completes the visual.

How do you think this piece fits into this month’s theme of narrative art?
My type case works are narrative in nature. By linking scenes together through placement or through the juxtaposition of images, my artwork attempts to engage the viewer by communicating a story or capturing an event.

How does a collage tell a story?
Photographs are assembled into a sequence creating new perspective of a scene. You don’t need to show the entire vista in order to convey the image. Much like filling in the blanks on crossword puzzle the mind completes the story.

Stay tuned for interviews with this month’s other award winners!

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