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“Pattern Fan”  

Geraldine Harris + Cella Neapolitan  2009    11 x 14 inch  Mixed Media Collage

 My first mixed media piece of 2009 was also my first collaborative artwork.  Geraldine “Dean” chose the woman’s photograph on the left and I the one on the right.  She selected the vintage rose button and I the vintage rose postage stamp.  All other artistic choices were made jointly, thoughtfully, harmoniously, and often excitedly.

Titling the piece was a challenge until, mulling on the dress pattern background, I recalled Paul Simon’s song “Patterns” with the lyrics ‘My life is made of patterns that can scarcely be controlled.’  In our artwork, I imagine this to be the same person ~ on her wedding day and as a mature woman ~ whose patterns of style and direct gaze remain.  Dean and I echoed the concept in the dress pattern, with its own fan shapes, and of course, strong pattern of the colorful fan itself.   

 I am a fan of patterns but also feel we need to break free at times.  So this fan is consciously more contemporary Eastern than antique Western.  For more about the project, please check out this web page Pacesetters Collaboration 2009.



“Music Fan”

 Geraldine Harris   2009      11 x 14 inch Mixed Media Collage

 This is Dean’s piece, the first that was made in the Pacesetters Collaboration project.  All artist choices were hers and all work done by her, with the exception of cutting with scissors.  Pink is Dean’s favorite color, which I think is an interesting complement to the vintage sepia tone of the overall piece.

Our mutual friend Merritt, who brought us together for this project, provided the organza ribbon.  Its length just made it to be the frame-within-a-frame that Dean wanted.  Once she decided to title this collage “Music Fan,” that led to the other pieces having parallel titles. 

 All three pieces will be exhibited in June 2009 at West Textures Gallery, with the works of other artist pairs in the Collaborations II project.  I expect it will be quite a show.



“Victorian Fan”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      11 x 14 inch Mixed Media Collage

 Paper, chalk, ink, objects natural + cultural … old + new

 This is my piece, the final one in the Pacesetters Collaboration project.  As Dean had, I began with choosing a vintage woman’s photograph in my collection.  Since Dean had chosen sheet music for the background, I selected pages from an old dictionary, one of which included the word ‘librarian.’  My thinking was to make it a “Book Fan” to her “Music Fan.”

 However, as I gathered materials and played, the piece took on different meaning.  Aspects of the photograph suggested to me the dichotomies of the Victorian era.  The woman is wearing fancy, sparkly attire and yet does not look at the camera.  And her curls are tightly wound to frame her face and yet there is something reptilian atop her head. 

 Playing out the nature theme, I knew I wanted the lichen illustrations beneath her photograph to show through the fan.  This meant lace, and this antique piece has echoing curly spirals.  The fan's base is a scallop shell, wrapped in lepidolite beads and outlined in wavy ink line.  The English postage stamp comes from my father's collection and pictures royalty, perhaps Queen Victoria, and the trim in upper right is from an old satin purse.  Final accent is a Victorian jet button gifted to me by a French friend.



“Siren Fan”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      11 x 14 inch Mixed Media Collage

 Japanese paper, iridescent mermaid tail, scalloped metal, pastel chalk,

Vintage sheet music, candy box, stamp + button

 My fascination with mermaids dates back to childhood, my interest still fueled by the fantasy.  Now, I also see the mermaid in dualities that go beyond the physical.  Siren’s songs were known to lure sailors to their deaths, and yet mermaids also sang in comfort and joy.  Mermaids seem to be either the most beautiful or the most hideous of creatures, not much in-between.  And while their typically bare tops would suggest sexuality, they seem to lack the essential female organ. 

 This is #3 in my Fan Series, the only one so far not to use a vintage photograph.  It seems impossible to capture mermaids on film.  One photograph I’ve seen was obviously a fish, and a very ugly one at that.  I have another mermaid photograph in my postcard collection.  However, she is holding an air tube, so she cannot be a real mermaid.  I think artists best capture mermaids anyway.

“Italian Fan”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      11 x 14 inch Mixed Media Collage

Vintage map, photograph + stamps, Italian paper, ink, thumb piano keys, shell button

 This woman is my paternal Grandmother, whose parents immigrated to America from Genoa in the late 19th Century.  I knew my Grandmother as an older woman, seeing pictures of her as a young woman only recently.  Her name was Rose Catherine, and raising four children in the Depression after her husband died was one of many challenges she faced.

 Rose was quiet, proud, and I think lived in pain based on her slow walk.  She boasted that she had an 18-inch waist when she married, loved to grow flowers, was a great cook ~ ravioli, knot rolls, pinwheel cookies ~ and brought us Hershey’s kisses.  I think of her often as I make art, as she always had to have things “just so.” 

 Grandmother’s home was the kind of first-generation Italian American style that exists only in memory now.   Color and patterns were definitely part of that style.  Visiting Italy in 2005, I experienced first-hand the cultural heritage that feeds that attraction.  And I believe it is expressed in this collage as well ...  dedicated with love to Rose Catherine Ginocchio Cella.

“The Wings of Masculism”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      5 x 10 x 10 inch Assemblage

 Vintage trophy, metal cage, wood box, peacock feathers and glue strands

As a feminist, especially in terms of liberation from stereotypes, I have always believed in the other side of the coin.  And yet ‘masculism’ isn’t even a word.  Have men not also sought freedom from gender expectations that run counter to their own?  Of course they have!  Men should no more feel bound to being strong, achieving bread-winners than women do to being vulnerable, giving bread-bakers.  

I have had this trophy for some time and always found it at once amusing and sad.  When I recently acquired the miniature birdcage, it ‘called’ for the little briefcase man.  And the chevre-box base stands for the foundation we all have, on some level, in domesticity. 

 Peacock feathers for wings are a natural, showing that males, too, can be colorfully different.  The wings are attached with a vintage button, a gold star for achievement and keeping the man tied to his cage in a web of glue.  The latch is open, however, and do not wings hold eternal hope?



“Behold the Plate Spinner (from both sides)”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      3 x 6 x 9 inch Assemblage

Ballerina trophy, engraving, Italian paper, curling ribbon and vintage glass buttons

 Woman as plate spinner has been a theme of interest from the start of my mixed media career.  This is the first time, however, I have illustrated a central concept.

The woman who “has it all,” spinning many plates in the air so successfully, may look beautiful and accomplished … a kind of SuperWoman presented to the world’s applause.  Yet if you look behind-the-scenes, behind what goes into such an effort, you will find Blood, Sweat, Tears, Pain and Fatigue. 

No one can do it all ~ or even pretend to ~ without sacrifice, help, and/or some kind of brace, as this ballerina requires on her back.  And if she tilts a little under the weight of these plates, have mercy.  All the world may be a stage, but it’s one best understood from multiple viewpoints.   


“I Am a Competitor, Too”

 Cella Neapolitan   2009      5 x 10 x 15 inch Assemblage

Cheerleader trophy, sports-ball inflating needles, tees, dominoes, and vintage marbles, bottle caps, award and service ribbons

 Cheerleaders, by definition, are on the sidelines.  Ancillary to the action, their role is to build enthusiasm for ~ and in ~ the players.   Yet amateur cheerleaders have their own moments in the sun, competitions wherein they are the athletes of distinction. 

Like this cheerleader breaking the finish line, we all would like recognition for being more ~ or other ~ than we’re usually perceived.  Duality is part of being human.  While I feel I am mainly an empathic, encouraging person, I cannot deny a competitive streak that runs in my family.  In art, that translates to working on each piece until it is “just so” and also entering juried exhibits despite the odds. 

Here’s a competition for you:  The first person to see something in the marbles other than marbles wins the first limited edition print of this assemblage.   The game is afoot!   Patricia wins, recognizing that they could be the planets in our solar system, in order from the sun:  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto the erstwhile (hence in steel rather than glass).


“Love Abides in All Seasons”

Cella Neapolitan       9 x 3 x 3 inches      Mixed Media Assemblage

Happy Fifth Anniversary, Paul and Coree! 

 This is the “wood” anniversary, which, as natural and Earth-loving/living as you are, seems a special one.

 This vintage box once held cheese, better than Velveeta, I suspect.  At first I was dismayed that I had placed the papers inside so that the back was upside-down, but then I saw that there was a castle on top … perfect setting for my signature!  The Japanese papers were selected to represent the four seasons, something you have heightened my awareness of, especially in terms of seasonal fare.  They are arranged à la the Mister Rogers character Princess SummerFall WinterSpring.  The stamp design is the Ghanaian symbol for wisdom, one of your special gifts. 

 You’ll find other “Easter Eggs” here ~ L is for Lulah, “om,” V for the 5th anniversary ~ so have fun and know that the love you share shows in all you do.  Mahalo!



“Peace of Candy?”

Cella Neapolitan       13 x 13 inches        Mixed Media Collage

 When my husband and I visited Italy in 2005, anti-war sentiment was evident.  This sign was particularly eye-catching, scrawled as it was on a blackboard in a candy shop (that doubled as a liquor store … how European!). 

 I know it wasn’t written by a child, but placed against the jars of sweet, colorful candies, “NO ALLA GUERRA” just struck me as such a direct, innocent plea.  I knew that one day I would want to use this photograph in a collage.

 Enter Artrageous 22, the annual benefit for Nashville Cares, whose theme this year is “Sweet Imagination.”  My imagination placed these Italian candies on a silver serving plate, surrounded them with faux red licorice laces, and dangled thereon a pewter peace symbol.  While the silver frame is "battle-scarred," there is still beautiful hope reflected there. 


9 x 9 inch  Assemblage  11-24-09

Wood Box surrounded with mustard-leather belt and beads of pearl, lepidolite, sea opal and lapis lazuli; filled with vintage international stamps in quadrants representing (clockwise, starting with upper left) water, music, circles and knowledge; and center-pieced with a rainbow, rock crystal heart and swan.


Like most of my mixed media pieces, this one (smile) went through a few changes to become what it is.  I knew I wanted to do something related to Paul McCartney’s song “This One” with the lyrics, “The swan is gliding upon the water, a god is riding upon its back, how calm the water, how bright the rainbow, fade this one to black.”  Researching the Indian imagery online, I learned that it is actually a goddess who rides a swan in the Hindu Vedas.  Saraswati, “the one who flows,” has four arms that hold a pot of water for purity, a veena for music, a crystal rosary for poetry and a book for prose.

I realized that, loosely translated, these concepts ~ the purity of nature, the supremacy of music, the eternity of love and the enlightenment of education ~ are core values Jerry and I have shared in our lives together.  And then I luckily found 36 stamps that not only represented these notions but also fit into the box!  The surrounding beads are the water, and the belt is mustard because this is the only color other than white that Saraswati wears.  Finally, at the piece’s center is a crystal heart because god is love, love is god.