A collaborative project with participants at NewCourtland Life at Allegheny, Maria Möller and myself. The project involved having seniors create collages that would appear on a pinochle deck.
“As many types of rules as there are types of people” was how Playing With a Full Deck participant Theresa Lester described the game of pinochle: an apt description not just of a card game with endless variations, but also of the art-making process. When faced with a blank piece of paper, the challenge and the joy for every artist is to create according to their own set of rules.
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As the lead artists for this ten week collage workshop with seniors from NewCourtland’s LIFE at Allegheny, we established just a few ground rules. Creating a custom deck of pinochle cards stood as our primary goal; we provided stock imagery, digital technology, a series of playing card idioms such as “lost in the shuffle” and “show your hand” and the color palette of black, red, white, yellow and blue. Beyond that, all the artists involved could play by their own rules. And it shows! Within this suite of collages we not only witness beauty and inspiration but the histories, aesthetics and personalities of the participants. The senior artists showed us that “as many types of rules as there are types of people” not only describes a way of making art. It also describes a way that one has lived — and continues to live — one’s life.