Express yourself

Pathways hosts Collage with Meaning workshops to encourage creative expression.


Last Saturday, the fifth collage workshop, Collage with Meaning, took place at Pathways for the Arts Gathering Space. Participants created collages on foamcore boards brushed over with glue at the class moderated by mixed media artist Billie Jean Sullivan.
“Once you get started, it has a life of its own,” Sullivan said during the workshop, where soothing music played to help participants create their projects.

The Collage with Meaning workshop is part of a series of collage workshops offered at Pathways over the winter. Each workshop will happen on Saturdays from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Keren Tonnesen organized the event, and has the next workshops, with artist Cheyanne Vandall, scheduled for Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. Tonnesen hopes to continue the workshops with different leaders and different focuses, and is currently looking for other collage artists to lead the workshops.

“It’s a community of people seeking to find a way to express themselves, and this is a fairly simple way to identify your emotions with pictures, then make something artistic out of it,” Linda Wanamaker said. She found out about the workshop through Sulivan, and invited her friend Maggie Davis-Jelly.

Sullivan brought many vision boards to the workshop to give examples of the different themes for each board. During her creative process, she uses keys in her collages to symbolize unlocking doorways to future possibilities. According to Sullivan, feathers are great to use in collages, representing nature in the piece; she passed out some guinea hen feathers during the workshop.

Each project the participants made had different themes, such as Roberta Frederick’s collage design with outdoor activities she loved using blue colors to symbolize calm and relaxation. The theme in Davis-Jelly’s collage was Martha’s Vineyard, with a mash of quahogs, words like “ILUVMV,” the Aquinnah Cliffs, and part of an Island map. “It’s a creative vision workshop, where what you see and put on paper is what you’re thinking, hoping, and viewing for your life going forward,” Davis-Jelly said.

Tonnesen had been thinking about doing a collage workshop with Pathways as a way for people to express their inner thoughts, feelings, and plans for the future. “We want people to know that [Pathways] is available for this kind of thing, and it brings other ideas up while people are here [in the winter],” Tonnesen said.

Tonnesen recalled collage artist Vandall approaching her to express interest in becoming involved with Pathway’s programing, since she was planning to be on-Island for the winter. The classes with Vandall were called Collage Workshops, and took place in November and December, with her leading a small group in a freeform workshop.
“Our first [collage workshops] were fun because it was an exploration for all of us,” Tonnesen said.

After Vandall was on board for last year’s three classes, Tonnesen reached out to Sullivan in October. Sullivan agreed to fit two workshops into her schedule for January. “It’s kind of like a modern-day quilting session; you get to use your ideas and colors,” Sullivan said during a phone interview with The MV Times.

She described collage work as a way for people to witness their thought patterns and use them to deal with past problems in a cathartic way, or as a planning tool for manifesting their goals for the upcoming year.

Collage Workshop is one daytime creative art program that Pathways offers, along with writing and poetry series, music, and film programs. More information about Pathways art, writing, and music programs can be found online at