Paper Trumpets #18: Mia Cave


Click image to enlarge:

Mia Cave



Notes on this collage:

  • This one serves as sort of a sequel to one of my other collages, Cougar Cave. It may even be the same mountainside.
  • The woman peeking out of the cave/tear is Mia Farrow. The image is from the movie Rosemary’s Baby. It’s the scene where she brandishes a long-ass knife as she gets ready to confront her Satan-loving neighbors (read a great review of the film and see the image here). That’s her arm—and the knife—coming out of another tear or “cave.”
  • I like how the woman in the boat seems to be looking at Mia’s face, while the preppy guy is more concerned about the knife.
  • I was starting to feel a little bit of a creative block around the end of the year and I was getting worried. I found myself looking through books and magazines and feeling choosier with my images. After a couple of weeks of discouragement, I realized I just had to cut out more things and spread them out. To see more of the possibilities I had. It was a good remedy. I’ve started off 2015 with a more vigorous approach and a renewed goal to experiment more. Just this past weekend, I started or made a dozen new collages.
  • Sometimes you don’t see the full potential of an image until you cut it away from its original context. Once you have liberated it and start placing it with other pieces or backgrounds, you can finally give it a new meaning, a fresh life, and a rewritten history. It is reborn. Time machined.
  • A bunch of my favorite collage artists are part of the upcoming Papercuts show at Redux Studio in Alameda, starting February 13th.


My Paper Trumpet spotlight this time around is on Delilah Jones, a young, energetic collage artist living in Brooklyn. When I first become collage-crazy a year ago and was Googling for contemporary collagists every free moment of my day, I came across her work through the magical mail collage project, ice cream kingdoms. I was excited that she was trying a lot of different approaches and that she once lived in the Pacific Northwest. I asked her a few questions via email:

The Rumpus: I really love the Portals series. I’ve done a couple of collages like that too. What does that series mean to you, or what do you like about it?

Delilah Jones: Portals was born by happiest accident. I had lost my scissors (I’ve used the same pair for the last six years) and decided to start ripping the paper by hand. I really enjoyed the tactile elements of the process—the physical release, the potency of tearing the fabrics of reality and piecing them back together by whim. The portals seemed to appear naturally, as if one dimension wished to become known by way of it’s alternate. Reality bends and shifts to reveal other curious surrealities if we just allow our perceptions to adjust to the possibility of their existence. Each portal is an opportunity to exist in a space beyond definition. I am constantly living in a world of contradictions, and I can relate to feeling two completely separate ways at the same time, be it physically, emotionally, creatively, spiritually, socially, what to eat for lunch, you name it. Portals allows us to see the unseen. Lift that veil sun! My dream is to make large-scale public installations of them one day. Huge and encapsulating like you could just walk right into the next world. Break on through to the other side, ya know.

Rumpus: I like that you use words in some of your work too. I used to wonder if people thought the words were cheesy because I didn’t see many people playing with language like that. What do you feel the use of words contributes to your work or how you might approach a collage?

Jones: Oral tradition is sacred and language fascinates me. Especially this old bag of tricks. English is a beast. Like, what do we even mean? Would you know what I meant if I said it? Especially if you can’t hear me saying it. Digital language baffles me even more. So silent and full of surprises. We wear muteness all too often and it is our duty to speak even if through the bold simplicity of a single word. It’s almost like an incantation, when I add text to my collages. It really brings the magic on home. Like a stamp on a letter. The element that’ll get you there. Many things can straddle the line between genius and total cheese, but that’s no reason to not experiment with new forms of expression.

I think my love of language-based collages stems from my somewhat secret history with spoken word poetry in college. I never considered myself a writer before then, and it gave me the ability to connect with a part of my psyche that needed to be heard.

I am constantly searching for the truth. If a photograph doesn’t lie, what would it tell if it could actually speak? I really don’t know how to talk about my work objectively. It just is. I consider my art a form of divination and open old books and magazines randomly and without forethought. The images speak and I listen. I love language play. The subtlety of a single piece of text. Words are the key to the universe.

I’ve grown to find I am a bit of a minimalist at heart. The medium of collage allows me to communicate the greatest amount of information instantaneously while using the simplest, sparsest elements. I usually use a single background and one single foreground element in my work because it is hardly my intention to “create something cool looking” but rather to act as a vessel through which to tell a story of the untold. Longtime collaborator and inspiration Jesse Treece and I are currently working on a sequel to our collaboration Moondaze where we exchange nine works adding text to each one. The result is a strange and whimsical adventure into our collective imagination and mutual love of text.

Rumpus: What kind of goals or plans do you have for your collage work? Perhaps art shows? Other design opportunities?

Jones: My hopes for the future of collage, and all forms of creative expression, is to ultimately help others find space to explore their own inner passions and genuine selves. Leggo my Ego. Big picture shit. It’s as simple as “I just want to make other people happy” but it is also a desire to share intimate knowledge, curious insights, humorous notions, absurd abstractions, heartfelt wonder, deep longing, alien humanness, and everything in between as we search for answers to our ultimate questions. Absolutely I would love to continue exhibiting my work, and I recently joined forces with my neighborhood hooligans at the Brooklyn Collage Collective. I’m super excited about the work these talented individuals are creating and even more so, I’m juiced to be connecting with my local community. Takin’ it to the moon!

Kevin Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress Future Tense Books in Portland, Oregon. His books include the story collection, Creamy Bullets, the memoir, A Common Pornography, and the novel, This Is Between Us. His work has appeared in publications such as Pank, Sixth Finch, Poets & Writers Magzine, Yeti, Fairy Tale Review, Tin House, Best Sex Writing 2010, and Best American Essays 2013. More from this author →