Photos by Hillary Ehlen
“I like to think of these pieces as little pauses in the chaos of abundance and visual satisfaction.”
Amber Fletschock‘s abstract artwork captures fleeting moments through the medium of collage. Even though her pieces are physically pasted onto a background, they appear as though they could shift and organically change at any moment. Fletschock’s analog approach of manipulating recycled paper materials from magazines and books introduces a unique perspective into what abstract art is.
At first glance, her work appears to be digital, but upon closer inspection, the pieces are actually masterfully layered physical collages. By using existing materials, she takes from the present and creates new forms. From print materials that would otherwise find their fate in a recycling bin, she organically unearths microcosms within her pieces.
With any art medium at her disposal to pursue, she landed on collages as her craft. She shared, “I first came to collage while in college studying painting and drawing. In drawing class, I vividly remember struggling with a drawing and then feeling the need to tear a hand from one drawing and adhere it to another. I was instantly enamored by the tension and distortion this technique cerated.”
By beginning to add in fabric and other drawings and paintings, she created unintentional mixed media works. The strain and unconventional feel this technique created intrigued her and lead her to continue exploring the method, which she continues to carry out as her main medium. She also continues to pull from her own paintings, as well as other’s paintings she comes across in art magazines. She enjoys integrating identifiable marks from other artists and incorporating fossils for viewers to uncover, while also creating a collaboration with such artists.
There is not an A to B method in her creation. As the works themselves are collages, the process it takes to create them is also a collage of steps. One part of the process is material selections. In her apartment, she has a busy workstation, including filing cabinets and recycled macaroon boxes of magazine morsels.
“It’s all a process, I start with chaos and try to create a whole every time. That’s also the everyday process of my life,” she said. To an outsider, her workspace’s array of paper clippings, scissors, rulers, bookbinding materials and brushes might seem chaotic. But the act of taming is a meditative part of her process.
Within these containers, magazine cutouts are organized by color, texture, mood, etc. Fletschock’s final works are abstract environments with fluid energy, but the materials she creates them from are found objects. The pieces of her collages are primarily from magazines, and sometimes from old books salvaged from thrift stores. She carefully sifts through pages, seeking elements she can incorporate into her work. She is drawn to organic and natural elements from the likes of National Geographic, but lately has been enjoying collecting from fashion magazines, taking advantage of the patterns and folds of fabric. Food magazines also intrigue the artist, as she noted, “So much of food photography right now is just beautiful and looks like abstract paintings.”
Reusing and repurposing materials is economical and environmentally friendly. Fletschock can take in old magazines from friends (or even recycling bins) and give their contents a new life. Rather than print materials living one purpose and being discarded, they are now turned into art. “My work is nature-based in a sense, but it is made using modern materials and everyday materials and it’s trying to create something that’s very organic,” she said.
When flipping through magazines looking for materials, she consults her mental filing cabinet, where she has concepts and visions stored. “I’m always looking for texture and color. Things that look like they have light to them or a sheen to them and things that look organic or from nature—that’s really important. Also the opposite, where it is super sleek and modern, and I try to combine the two and juxtapose them,” she said.
While Fletschock works primarily in collage now, she also is a cake decorator at Nichole’s Fine Pastry, has created installations and she had success in creating abstract paintings. Such paintings are still prevalent around town, as seen in the permanent collection at the Rourke Art Gallery & Museum and at Dash & White. “I paint every once in a while now, but that’s pretty much what I used to do. And actually, collages are abstract paintings, just with a different medium. It’s using color and texture in the same way, but much more refined. But still completely abstract,” she said.
Within Fletschock’s home and studio, her decor is a mix of antique store finds and beloved trinkets. She considers herself a seeker and a gatherer, collecting pieces here and there that speak to her. While there’s no predominant trend, like mid-century modern, minimalist or farmhouse, her attraction to pattern, texture and vibrancy that you see in her artwork is reflected in the space she dwells in. Looking around, life imitates art for Fletschock. “Collage” is everywhere.