Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Collage 258

Here we are in Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XXI.

Nicolai Rostov is watching the Russian and French sovereigns together as Napoleon decorates a Russian soldier. These last few chapters are about Rostov's political awakening, a painful period for him.

"Rostov stood at the corner for a long time, looking at the feasting men from a distance. Painful work was going on in his mind, which he could not bring to an end. Terrible doubts arose in his soul. Now he remembered Denisov with his changed expression, his submission, and the whole hospital with those torn-off arms and legs, that filth and disease. He imagined so vividly now that hospital stench of dead flesh that he looked around to see where the stench was coming from. Then he remembered the self-satisfied Bonaparte with his white little hand, who was now an emperor, whom the emperor Alexander liked and respected. Why, then, those torn-off arms and legs, those dead people? Then he remembered the rewarded Lazarev and Denisov punished and unforgiven. He caught himself in such strange thoughts that it made him frightened."

I love this moment of questioning, soul searching. He is seeing things clearly -- and it is bitter. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 523-524 of original text
collage, ink
made 10/19/10

Monday, November 29, 2010

Collage 257

Napoleon, in a colorful contrast to this neutral collage:

He rode at a gallop, in a small hat, with the sash of St. Andrew across his shoulder, in a blue tunic unbuttoned over a white camisole, on an extraordinary purebred gray Arabian stallion, on a gold-embroidered crimson shabrack. --p. 413 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 521-522 of original text
made 10/19/10
page 413-414 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Collage 256

I actually started this collage a few weeks prior -- the night that Mark did the photo shoot for Artscope Magazine, we were pretending to work as he photographed us. I kept the piece of paper, and decided to use it after all. I doodled on it, just random marks with pencil. Actually it might have been Lynn's doodles. I then laid a piece of sewing pattern tissue on top, and kept on going.

Tonight we -- Adrienne, Emma, Lynn, Mark, Lucy Arrington and I -- started to hang our show which opens on Friday. It is a daunting task -- all 30o individual collages. We first had to come to a concensus about how to approach the task, then we had to do it! We are more than halfway there. Next time we show, I hope that someone else does the PR -- and hangs the show. We have yet to straighten out details for the event itself. That said, we are all very excited about this opening on Friday night at 6pm. If you are reading this and live in the Boston area, we hope to have a full house and a wonderful party. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 519-520 of original text
collage, pencil, acrylic paint
made 10/8/10
page 411-412 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Collage 255

Nikolai wandered around town in a tailcoat and a round hat, gazing at the French and their uniforms, and at the streets and houses where the Russian and French emperors lived. In the square he saw tables being set up and preparations being made for the dinner; in the streets he saw draperies hung across with flags in the Russian and French colors and huge monograms of A and N. In the windows of the houses there were also flags and monograms. --p. 410 in P/V

Lynn Waskelis
from page 517-518 of original text
collage, crayon, ink, graphite
made 10/9/10
page 410-411 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, November 26, 2010

Collage 254

In this scene, Nicolai Rostov is struggling with the shift between seeing the French as "the enemy" whereas Boris is already there;. Boris is a political animal and has sensed the shift of political winds. Tolstoy's characters are often divided into two groups: those who are conventional and those who are non-conventional. He does not respect "conventional" people.

"The expression of annoyance had already disappeared from Boris's face; evidently having reflected and decided what to do, he took him [Rostov] by both hands with a particular calm and led him to the neighboring room. Boris's eyes, looking calmly and firmly at Rostov, were veiled as if by something, as if some sort of screen -- the blue spectacles of convention -- had been put on them. So it seemed to Rostov." -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 515-516 of original text
collage, ink
made 10/8/10
page 408-410 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Collage 253

Happy Thanksgiving! Last night my niece was on Skype with a 21 year old friend of hers who was just back from his first 400 day tour of duty in Iraq as a military police. She invited me to join in and we had a conversation with him that is much like what Nicolai Rostov was thinking. In Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XIX, the French and Russian emperors had met in Tilsit. Boris, the total political animal, had already adjusted to accepting Napoleon. Rostov, on the other hand, reflected as follows: "In Rostov, as in the whole army from which he came, that change in relations with Napoleon and the French, turning them from enemies into friends, was still farm from being accomplished as it had been at headquarters and in Boris. In the army they still went on experiencing a mixed feeling of anger, contempt, and fear for Bonaparte and the French. Still recently Rostov, talking with one of Platov's Cossack officers, had argued that if Napoleon were ever taken prisoner, he would be treated not as a sovereign, but as a criminal."

Jon was making similar comments last night. How difficult it was for the US troops to shift from war-making to country-building. Questioning who is "the enemy" at this point. Acknowledging that the US is in Iraq out of US military/financial interests, but also that the US is morally obligated to clean up the mess that we created by totally destroying that country. He said that only way he keeps going is to keep to his mission and orders and not question too much, because it is messy and confusing and he does his best to do what he thinks is right. All that out of a 21 year old American soldier. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 513-514 of original text
collage, graphite, jelly pen
made 10/8/10
page 407-408 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Collage 252

I wish that I read Russian better. Or better said, I wish I read Russian. I can read enough to figure out where we are in the story but that's about it. One of Nikolai Rostov's army friends is Dmitrich Denisov who Otto (Team Tolstoy member) calls an honorary man. In this passage (Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XVIII), Rostov has gone to visit Denisov in the military hospital. He also unexpectantly runs into Tishin who has lost his arm. Denisov has a speech impediment of some sort and in the English translation it reads like this:

Denisov calls Rostov "Ghrostov". He says "ghreetings" rather than "greetings". Denisov writes a letter to the sovereign and asks Rostov to deliver it. He says, "It seems you can't bghreak an axhead with a stghraw". Since I read Russian so poorly, I am not sure how Tolstoy spells his speech. I will be more observant next time I meet up with Dolokhov. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 511-512 of original text
collage, ink, wax, acrylic paint
made 10/8/10
page 405-407 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Collage 251

Here is a note that I received last week from Matt Kish, the creative genius behind One Drawing for Every Page of Moby Dick. Lucy Arrington initially contacted him to tell him about us and how his project was the spark behind ours. I emailed him a few days later myself. We are all huge fans of his. This project never would have started had it not been for him. So we owe a lot to him! Here is an excerpt of his email to me a few days ago which he gave me permission to post. -- Lola

It was a truly humbling experience to read about your project and learn that in some small way I was a part of the spark that inspired it. I've really never had anything like that happen to me (me inspiring someone else, I mean) so it's a really strange feeling. Good, but strange. You ask yourself a lot if you're really worthy of that kind of thing, you know? But it really did touch me very deeply, and made me very grateful that this project of mine has been able to reach out a bit beyond the damp and musty pages of Melville's own book and the minds of his admirers and into other people's lives in new and unexpected ways. Some time this week I will write a blog post about your project and hopefully point a few more people your war. Your project and your amazing art certainly deserve a great deal of respect and attention.

Lynn Waskelis
from page 509-510 of original text
collage, jelly pen, graphite
made 10/8/10
page 403-405 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, November 22, 2010

Collage 250

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to contribute to Team Tolstoy! What a terrific idea! I love to visit the blog to see all the new collages. They just keep getting better and better.

I wish I had more ephemera on hand when I did this, but that is a whole other story….. Anyhow, I don’t have a clue what Tolstoy wrote on page 507/8. I guess the images of war (bloodshed, movement) were in my mind when I worked on this. -- Suz

I hope that Suzanne doesn't get too mad that I add to her comment. This is an absolutely beautiful piece. And it has a story! Do you wonder what happened to the missing ephemera that she referred to? Suzanne lives in NYC. She is an old friend of mine as well as Lucy Arrington's. We all met at work about 25 years ago. I mailed her the page of original text as well as some ephemera. I didn't hear back from her for a while, so I emailed. A week of silence. I called and asked about the progress of the collage (we need lead time so Mark can photograph them). She started off by saying, "please don't hate me...". She said that she completed the collage but didn't like it at all -- so she threw it out! Gone. In a landfill in New Jersey somewhere. I was aghast. I laughed and cried. Suzanne is a tough self-critic. She doesn't have the advantage of being in the studio with the group where we praise each and every effort. I told the other team members about the blunder and we were divided about what to do. Fake it? Leave a blank in the series? Mail her more materials gleaned from other original pages? We decided to give it another shot -- and look at this beauty that she came up with! My only regret is that she threw out the first one because knowing Suzanne, it was probably glorious as well. -- Lola

Suzanne Goodhart
from page 507-508 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/1/10

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Collage 249

Unhappy with my last two collages, I reach out in a new direction and discover something I like. Just attempting to put Tolstoy back in the center. This is the book, different colors, tones, feelings. But it turned into a composition that I
like. My favorite of these last three.... Otto

Otto Mayr
from page 505-506 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/1/10
page 400-402 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Collage 248

The Russian army is still hungry - starving actually. When one of his conscripts tell Denisov that there's a supply train bringing food to an infantry unit nearby, he takes things into his own hands and hijacks it. Tolstoy's message is pretty clear. Denisov is the good guy, willing to risk his own career to make sure his troops stay fed. The bandaged soldier in the collage is James Norman Hall, born in
Colfax, Iowa, Grinnell graduate (1913ish?) and co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty, after he was shot down over France and captured by the Germans during ww1. (This
image was clipped from a recent Grinnell College Alumni magazine). Hall is also pretty close to what I imagine Denisov looking like. -- Otto

I would also like to give a "shout out" to Team Tolstoy friend Matt Kish whose project inspired ours. He graciously acknowledged our project on his blog One Drawing for Every Page of Moby Dick on Tuesday of this week. We never would have started had Lucy Arrington not found his blog late last year. She told me about it and is sparked an idea. The result of which is this project. We all follow Matt's blog every day. And encourage our readers to do so, too.

My not-so-secret fantasy is that Matt will one day contribute a collage to our project. That would be an amazing honor. So thanks Matt for doing what you do so well! -- Lola

Otto Mayr
from page 503-504 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 10/1/10
page 398-400 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Friday, November 19, 2010

Collage 247

The Russian army is buried in mud from the spring thaw and out of food and fuel. Mud and poverty. So I thought I'd aim for a monochrome collage - browns and messiness. A
mess is what I wound up with. One of the hazards of this project is you only get one shot at the page. Once you've used the material, you don't get a second chance. So I'm not particularly happy with this effort, but it must stand. -- Otto

Otto Mayr
from page 501-502 of original text
made 10/1/10
page 398-400 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Collage 246

"When he had reported to the regimental commander, had obtained an assignment to his former squadron, had been on duty and gone foraging, had entered into all the little concerns of the regiment, and had felt himself deprived of freedom and bound within one narrow, unchanging frame, Rostov experienced the same peace, the same support, and the same awareness that here he was at home, where he belonged, as he felt under the parental roof."

Lynn Waskelis
from page 499-500 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, graphite, India ink
made 10/1/10
page 395-397 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Collage 245

You can tell from the colors that we used on this day that we are at peak foliage season here in New England. In the spring and summer there were days when we used a very different palette. I am a gardener and lover of everything outdoors, so even though we spend a lot of time in the studio like a couple of indoor cats, you can still see the influence of season.

We are now in Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XIV/XV. Pierre has gone to the home of Prince Andrei and Princess Marya. Their father, the old prince, who is monstrous towards the princess, has taken a strong liking to Pierre. This family treats him respectfully, unlike everyone else who mock him or use him.

At last, Pierre is welcome and seen for his own special qualities. "Only now, during his visit to Bald Hills, did Pierre appreciae all the strength and charm of his friendship with Prince Andrei. This charm expressed itself not so much in his relations with him, as in his relations with the whole family and household. With the severe old prince and the meek and timid Princess Marya, Pierre felt at once like an old friend, though he barely knew them. They all loved him already. Not only did Princess Marya, won over by his meek attitude towards the wanderers, give him her most luminous looks, but the little one-year-old Prince Nikolai, as his grandfather called him, smiled and Pierre and went to his arms. And Mikhail Ivanych and Mlle Bourienne looked at him with joyful smiles when he talked with the old prince."

It is a beautiful thing when one is embraced by a whole family. This passage warms my heart. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 497-498 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 10/1/10
page 394-395 Pevear/Volkhonsky translation

Monday, November 15, 2010

Collage 244

On this day we were in the studio with Chris Chou who was working on her own large drawings using ink, pencil, wax and gel pen. She shared these materials with us and also made a collage. (#216) You can see some of her work if you click on our "Links" tab and go to "A Red Studio." For me it was a charmed day where working in Chris' presence and with the new materials she shared with us opened up new expressive possibilities.

Lynn Waskelis
from page 495-496 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink and wax
made 10/1/10
page 392-394 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Collage 243

People often ask if we follow the story line as we make the collages. At the beginning I never referenced the story, but do so intermittently, depending on how engaged I am with the story. There have been times when I've put the book down this year, to read something else. Recently I'm reading again and am really into it. In any case, when I made this collage, I did not look at the text to see what was going on.

Lo and behold, on this page (Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XIII), Prince Andrei and Pierre arrive at Bald Hills and encounter Andrei's sister Marya with her "people of God". She is extremely religious and one of her few pleasures in life, aside from caring for her motherless nephew, is her religion. We are introduced here to her "people of God", who are wandering saints (Marya's view) or trickster's (Andrei's view).

One of the wanders, Pelageyushka, describes a great blessing that was revealed in Kolyazin, a miracle-working icon. "There was radiance on her face, like a heavenly light, and it dripped from the holy Mother's cheek, just dripped and dripped...". Coincidentally, I used the image of the Mother Mary and baby Jesus in this piece. Really, it was unintentional. What to make of that? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 493-494 of original text
collage, acrylic paint, ink
made 10/1/10
page 390-392 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Collage 242

Here are some of the words which appear on this collage:

"The world is a graph, revealed linearly by infinite microscopic, electric charges. Human thought and emotions are but so many forces which activate motion. The rhythms of life are dynamic, supercharged forces which move within orbits of their own destiny. Thus these lines speak of the infinite world, wherein human thought and action dwell." Next time I get to the studio I will dig out the book and note the author and title. Lucy wrote yesterday more favorably about this art critic, but I still find it highly amusing.

This page of the book is from Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XII. Pierre and Andre have met at Bald Hills nd are discussing management of their estates, the condition of the serfs and philosophy. Prince Andrei "... looked at the sky Pierre had pointed to, and for the first time since Austerlitz saw the high, eternal sky he had seen as he lay on the battlefield, and something long asleep, something that was best in him suddenly awakened joyful and young in his soul. This feeling disappeared as soon as Prince Andrei re-entered the habitual conditions of life, but he knew that this feeling, which he did not know how to develop, lived in him. The meeting with Pierre marked an epoch for Prince Andrei, from which began what, while outwardly the same, was in his inner world a new life."

This is Tolstoy at his best. I myself have had two experiences like this, what I would call a moment of spiritual awakening. Both times it happened in nature, once in the redwood forest in northern California and the other time on the beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is indeed very difficult to capture with words. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 491-492 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/24/10
page 388-390 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Collage 241

Although we don't often reference visually what was happening historically, this particular collage lends itself to that kind of reflection. Emma found a large stash of old letters and shared them with us. This collage prominently features an envelope from 1914, written in Italian. Here's what was happening in Russian in 1914:

• June - July: General Strikes in St. Petersburg.
• July 19th: Germany declares war on Russia, causing a brief sense of patriotic union amongst the Russian nation and a downturn in striking.
• July 30th: The All Russian Zemstvo Union for the Relief of Sick and Wounded Soldiers is created with Lvov as president.
• August - November: Russia suffers heavy defeats and a large shortage of supplies, including food and munitions.
• August 18th: St. Petersburg is renamed Petrograd as 'Germanic' names are changed to sound more Russia, and hence more patriotic.
• November 5th: Bolshevik members of the Duma are arrested; they are later tried and exiled to Siberia.

We chose this image [and one of Lynn's as well] for the postcard for our show next month.-- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 489-490 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/24/10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Collage 240

Team Tolstoy member Lucy Zahner Montgomery sent the following comments after seeing yesterday's posting:

I love the neutrals you and Lynn have been doing - maybe because for me it brings more of a focus to the words and collage images. I don't know, but I love them.

Anyway, I read this passage a couple of times, and it actually made sense to me -

"... They evoke anonymous images of mystic implication. The lines move through the whole picture, knitting together a panorama of humanly motivated geature, each trapped within it own action and emotion -- a citadel of temporality, within a boundless and timeless space.... a panorama which decompartmentalizes human action..."

I would like to see the image it's describing.

Interestingly, I think it's also describing something that Tolstoy is trying to get at- "a panorama of humanly motivated gesture" - each character is so human, "trapped within it's own action and emotion" - I mean, if W&P were a giant painting, wouldn't it be a panorama of human actions and emotions - but how would you convey the movement through time and space, and the character's emotional growth (or not) that Tolstoy can convey through almost 2,000 pages of words -

One of the things I do in U.S. history class and my Asian Studies class is get 9th graders to look at images / paintings etc. and learn not only how to observe them, but how to describe them and how to see things in them. So I'm very interested in reading different descriptions of images. How can you use words to describe a piece of art, which is in itself perhaps made by an artist who is trying to depict something beyond mere words?

Perhaps words that attempt to describe something that is beyond words are doomed to sound pretentious...

Lola Baltzell
from page 487-488 of original text
made 9/24/10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Collage 239

You can make out on the top of this one the words, "Oh thank God for the radiant sky". Other lines follow which we can't quite make out. Tolstoy often repeats the same word in a passage -- multiple times. For example, the little princess with dark hair on her lips or Pierre's corpulent body and white soft hands. He used "radiant sky" many times in Prince Andrei's death scene [he survived]. The translators Pevear/Volokhonsky remain true to his repetitions, whereas earlier translators repeated a word only once. We like how this translation team stays true to the original text. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 485-486 of original text
collage, photo corners
made 9/24/10
page 384-386 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Collage 238

Can I say that I particularly like this one of mine? In part because I have always considered myself a colorist -- when I paint, I use a very bold palette. I work in a non-representational way. So exploring an almost neutral palette is quite interesting and engaging. I painted some "tiny music" with Payne's Gray acrylic but otherwise used straight collage. I used some text from an old art book which I find so pretentious that it's funny. Here are some of the lines I cut out:

... They evoke anonymous images of mystic implication. The lines move through the whole picture, knitting together a panorama of humanly motivated geature, each trapped within it own action and emotion -- a citadel of temporality, within a boundless and timeless space.... a panorama which decompartmentalizes human action...

What in the world does that mean? Clearly the writer is not an artist! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 483-484 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/24/10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Collage 237

The day Lynn made this, it was just the two of us in the studio. We worked in neutrals all day -- no color on the palette, even. Lynn was trained as an architect, and this is her first venture into the third dimension. Unfortunately the photograph doesn't quite capture the whimsical and mysterious feel of this piece, even though Mark photographed it in both positions. The black rectangle in the center is cut into a spiral so if you tip the piece forward, more is revealed inside. She also used many languages -- of course the Russian, but also French, English and Hindi. The other interesting element is gleaned from a thesaurus -- defining friendship. Which is one of the main themes of this whole project.

888. Friendship -- N. friendship, amity, friendliness &c adj.: brotherhood, fraternity, sodality, confraternity, sorosis, sisterhood; harmony &c. (concord) --

That's Team Tolstoy! -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 481-482 of original text
made 9/24/10
page 381-383 of Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Monday, November 8, 2010

Collage 236

In this scene (Volume II, Part Two, Chapter X), Pierre is visiting his estates for the first time in a long time. He has become a Mason and is moved to improve the lot of his serfs. There is a long description of how bad conditions are and how he is being fooled into thinking that all is well. The butterfly represents his hope for a better future.

Here is an excerpt: "Pierre did not know that the village where he offered bread and salt and where a chapel to Peter and Paul was being built was a market village with a fair on St. Peter's Day, that the chapel had been begun long ago by the wealthy peasants, who were the ones who welcomed him, and that nine-tenths of the peasants in that village were completely destitute. He did not know that since, on his orders, women with nursing babies were no longer sent to do corvee, that these same women had to do still harder work on their own land... And therefore Pierre was delighted by his visits to the estates and returned fully to that philanthropic state of mind in which he had left Petersburg, and wrote rapturous letters to his mentor-brother, as he called the grand master."

Pierre, duped again. First by his beautiful wife Helene, and now by his estate managers. Yet can't we all relate to the feeling of self-satisfaction as we send money to hurricane victims in Haiti? or to our favorite charity? He's trying to do the right thing. As we all are. Only Tolstoy seems to have the BIG PICTURE, doesn't he? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 479-480 of original text
made 9/24/10
page 380-381 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Collage 235

Several years ago I bought a huge box of ephemera from a used book store in Greenfield, Massachusetts for $10. I sorted through it and recycled some of it, gave some to other artists and still have an enormous amount of wonderful materials. One such treasure was a box of Russian icon painting postcards. Here is one of them. I noted that this is St. Sergius of Rozanezh who is "one of the most venerated saints of the Russian Orthodox Church". His feast days are July 5 and 18. The text never said, but maybe his face was on the icon that Princess Mara gave her brother as he set off for war? -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from [age 477-478 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/17/10

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Artscope Magazine

Well, I will switch it up a little today and not post an image, but the article written about us in Artscope Magazine! Not bad, right under an article about Christo!

Here is the review in the November/December issue, written by our friend Pam Mandell. We are so psyched!

Every Friday, in an East Boston studio, two to four artists gather around a table, elbow-to-elbow, each creating a collage made from a page of Tolstoy's "War and Peace". They select materials from a central scrap box and share one palette of acrylic paint, which has been mixed for the day, at the table's center. The artists add other media such as graphite, walnut ink, wax, thread and dried flowers.

Laura "Lola" Baltzell, the initiator of and main contributor to "The War and Peace Project," was its "Tom Sawyer" as Lynn Waskelis, her other primary contributor, describes it. With infectious enthusiasm, Baltzell drew together a core group of seven artists and nearly a dozen other guest contributors.

Two hundred and fifty collages, of a planned 750, are being made from each page of a Russian edition of Tolstoy's epic novel (which Baltzell brought back from Moscow 3O years ago) and will be exhibited at Atlantic Works Gallery in December.

Currently in fine health, Baltzell received treatment for metastatic breast cancer in 2008. Having read the "average" life span of those living with her diagnosis is 30 months, Baltzell was inspired to "fly in the face" of this statistic and create something expansive, which would involve "dear friends" and might take a very long time to finish. Years even. This spring, when the project began, Waskelis, a two-time breast-cancer survivor, often found herself lying on the floor of her studio after chemo treatments. The mother of two got up to work because she perhaps felt very much like Prince Andrei in "War and Peace" when he senses "the whole of life, with all its joy, is open to me."

So much, indeed, is collected and celebrated in these alternately elegant, strange, funny and poignant pieces. Each seven-by-five-inch page of the book is mounted on Bristol paper and transformed by the addition of a rich assortment of text and images culled from old letters stamps, sheet music, guidebooks, sewing patterns, newspapers, maps and things gleaned from closets, junk shops, and yard and book sales. "War and Peace," which takes place before and during the Napoleonic Wars, is known certainly for its length (about 1500 pages) but remains resonant today for Tolstoy's depiction of humanity in all it’s complexity and breadth - from princes to soldiers, from the ballroom to the battlefield. Similarly, so much of life and at its human interactions, from the mundane to the nostalgic, the playful to the spiritual, is glimpsed in these small collages which literally hold pieces spanning continents and time: embossed hotel stationery postmarked "Times Square 1912"; a yellow and brown Japanese origami flower; a Moroccan map; an image of a Hindu goddess (brought back from India); text from a 19th century German manuscript; French, Latin and Portuguese phrases; lyrics from faded hymnals; bright green diamonds cut from 1960s-era playing cards; and silhouettes of Dutch children.

Several pages from the 1971 Russian text have been sent to artists on Cape Cod and in Berlin. 0tto Mayr, the Berliner, is one of the seven main project artists, along with Lucy Arrington, Emma Rhodes, Lucy Zahner Montgomery and Adrienne Wetmore. There are rules, Baltzell explained, that allow for "individual voices with some unity." One rule is that virtually no money can be spent on materials. Another rule is that each collage must use, or reveal, one word of the original Russian text. Also, the artists may not go back to touch up their individual pages. Finally, the work is not for sale, nor does it belong to the artists - a truly communal effort of which even Tolstoy might approve. -- Pamela Mandell

Friday, November 5, 2010

Collage 234

We are now in Volume II, Part Two, Chapter X. Pierre has been received into the brotherhood of Masons and his social consciousness is heightened. It is 1806. The serfs were freed in 1861, so he was ahead of his time. Prior to his arrival at his estate in the province of Kiev, he had sent a letter to his stewards about changes he intended to make. Upon his arrival, he then met with them.

Tolstoy was an astute social critic, and here's how he describes the reaction to the proposed changes:

"Some of the stewards (there were half-literate managers among them) listened fearfully, taking what he said to imply that the young count was displeased with their stewardship and their concealing of money; others, after the first fright, were amused by Pierre's list and the new words they had never heard before; a third group took pleasure in hearing how the master spoke; a fourth group, the most intelligent, the head steward among them, understood from his speech how they ought to treat a master in order to achieve their own aims."

Tolstoy is tough on everyone! When I first read this book 30 years ago, I remember thinking that he was anti-aristocracy and pro-peasant. This time around, it seems that he is a tough critic -- no one escapes his reach. Other than Natasha. She seems to be the only character that he does not bash or call out in some way. -- Lola

Lynn Waskelis
from page 475-476 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 9/17/10
page 377-378 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Collage 233

Beth writes: In this part of the book Prince Andrei finishes reading a letter from Bilibin about the battlefront. He is at home and angry with himself for being excited by reading about the war. Then he listens to noises in the nursery and becomes irrationally afraid that his baby has died. I decided to put glasses in the collage because of the reading! and putting in parts of a map because of the war reference. And did I put in baby stuff too? Hmm, if so, both my collages had baby things in them. Maybe I was just missing my kids while in New Egland. Nah....

Beth Jorgansen Sherman
from page 376-377 of original text
made 9/17/10
page 376-377 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Collage 232

I am so excited to have become a part of the War and Peace Project on a Friday afternoon in September! I had no idea what I was in for, as I met up with my longtime best of friends, Beth and Lynn and stopped by the studio to see long lost friend, Laura! It was a wonderful time, working on my collage elbow to elbow with special friends in a studio tucked in along the Boston Harbor! My page was more about "War" and my couple hours of studio time with my fellow artists was all about "Peace". Reconnecting with everyone, while being creative was so much fun and exhilarating! I started out on my page with a little hesitation, but soon settled in to thoroughly enjoying the process, fun and company! After completing two collages, I found myself wanting to identify a special BIG project of my own - and wanting to spend every Friday afternoon in this studio with the girlfriends!

Lori Gordon Miller
from page 471-472 of original text
made 9/17/10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Collage 231

The text is taken from Bilibin's letter to Prince Andrei, describing the campaign in French, "with French jokes and turns of phrase," but "with an exclusively Russian fearlessness of self-condemnation and self-derision."
Bilibin writes that he has "decidedly gotten the taste for war and have really taken to it." I think he writes this without irony. Though I know people experience this it is so difficult for me to imagine.
Underneath is a headline taken from a crumbling 1935 Boston newspaper, discovered this summer stuffed in our neighbor's eaves while doing house repairs. There is nothing like a headline to grab attention and proclaim meaning!
The leaves garlanding the text are clipped from stained wallpaper stripped from the local historic house in preparation for its 25oth birthday celebration.
The materials used in this collage were in an especially advanced state of decay! I hope it survives.

Lynn Waskelis
from page 469-470 of original text
made 9/17/10

Monday, November 1, 2010

Collage 230

We just received word that Artscope Magazine, a New England regional magazine, will publish a story about our project in the upcoming November/December issue, just in time for our first show. We keep checking their website but as of yesterday the new issue wasn't posted. We will link to it once it's available. So we've all been busy, writing our bios and such because this is about to go quite public!

It's amazing how this project has grown since the beginning. I started it on a whim with just a small head of steam that was quickly spent. It was too daunting and I wasn't particularly inspired. Enter Lynn, then Lucy A and Lucy ZM, a little later Emma, Adrienne and Otto... and our guest artists... now we're rocking.

Working with this incredible group of artist friends, I am so pleased. By everyone's commitment to the project, how far we've come, by the quality of the work, by how close we've gotten as a group, how each of us has stretched and grown. I never would have made a collage of this complexity had I not been working with this team these last 6 months or so. I know that I personally have grown enormously in in terms of my own compositions, use of materials and color. Having Beth and Lori in the studio in mid-September (guest artists featured the last few days) is a great example of the power of this project. I was working mostly from their bit and pieces. And I like the result!

I had slacked off on reading War and Peace but picked it up again on the weekend. I intend to finish it -- maybe reading in pace with the collage progression. Last night I was reading about Natasha's first ball. It is a lovely passage. It is a cool project. Go Team Tolstoy! -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 467-468 of original text
made 9/17/10