Emerging Illinois artist Mel Cook produced seven mixed media monotypes during her residency at Manneken Press in March 2013. In these prints, which are layered with printed imagery and collaged elements cut from printed and/or colored paper and fabric, the artist explores space within still life and its relationship to content.
Desiring to combine painterly and collage approaches, Cook painted head and shoulder portraits of young women taken from fashion magazines which were printed onto Western papers, and compositions of flowers which were printed onto thin Asian kozo papers. She then cut out some of the printed flowers to collage onto the portraits, completing them with additional shapes cut from colored papers and fabrics, and drawing with graphite or pastel.
Cook also created a group of larger works using the sheets of kozo printed with images of flowers, some of which had been excised. By layering these onto sheets of colored kozo paper and adhering them to larger white sheets, she transformed them into visual objects: in "Objects For Still Life With Table" the paper has become a table top arranged with flowers, shapes and a bottle that the viewer looks down upon, with table legs collaged from cut pieces of handmade paper.
The artist writes about her work:
"I am interested in how Still Life and Portraiture can function in similar ways. The figure often becomes another object within the arrangement, while the other objects such as flowers become antagonistic. When excluding the figure from the Still Life there are still notions of the presence of the figure; rugs, frames, windows and tables are all designed around the scale of the human body. The figure's presence and absence is inherent in each work. This series of work questions ideas relating to traditional Still Life and Portraiture; the notions of framing and "pictureness" of the image, the "object-ness" of whatever is within the frame, and the perception of how these concepts are related to historical means of viewing."