Successful Collaboration Generates Art and Friendship

CollaborRed Hearts - a three dimensional, red-themed multi-media collage featuring fiberwork, sculpture, beadwork and glasswork.

CollaborRed Hearts – a three dimensional, red-themed multi-media collage featuring fiberwork, sculpture, beadwork and glasswork.

Six women artists created Collabor-Red_Hearts, an entry to the 2013 Fiber Arts Fiesta May 23-25, 2013 at Expo New Mexico in the Manual Lujan complex.

The project morphed from “the creativity salon,” a day set aside for women to create something together.

You never know where such an idea will go as guest writer Maria Berry details in this guest article.

By her own admission, Mary Ellen Merrigan is “always thinking.” Sometimes, those thoughts stray into the twilight zone. At least that’s the impression that five sister-artists had when they got Mary Ellen’s invitation to join her for the first “creative salon”.
The idea was to form a small group of artists, all working in different media, to collaborate in creating unique multi-media pieces.

They convened for the first time in November 2012, sat across the table from each other and stared politely, collectively wondering, “Say wha’?”

After lunch they moved to a round table in Mary Ellen’s studio – a setting and arrangement that proved more conducive to the easy flow of conversation and ideas. Each talked about her medium and her craft, and the meeting soon because a fascinating show and tell session.

Cindy Chavez of the Bead Society of New Mexico introduced her medium as “texture and her craft as “the marriage of textures” to form mixed media jewelry, wall art and purses.

Pat Moorman showed photos of her sculptures, all whimsical animals –buffalo, birds and a 6-foot pink flamingo with ruby red lips and rain boots – each sporting a playful smile much like her own.

Mary Rothman showed examples of her inspired burnished pencil art and talked of her graphic design business.

Mary Ellen, also of the Bead Society of New Mexico, enthusiastically talked beads, bead weaving and seed bead creations, passing around finished jewelry and other projects in progress.

Frances Starnes of the Machine Knitting Club modeled her wearable art and set out a variety of yarns for all to touch and see. She confessed to wanting to push traditional limits in her knitted and crocheted designs and asked for ideas and comments.

Maria Berry explained her two creative outlets of creative writing and crafting dichroic glass. She circulated examples of some unusual applications for her glass pieces, noting that “hair bling” was her current passion.

Carried by the flow of creative juice, six near-strangers began to relax and connect. Now, four months later, the group has a mission – to collaborate in creating unique, imaginative multi-media art pieces.

They have a name and a logo that speaks of what they do (collaborate), and how they do it (with heart) and who they are (artists). They are The Collabor-he-Artists. And they have a submission to the Fiber Arts Fiesta called Collabor-Red-Hearts – a red-themed multi-media triptych featuring six hearts that represent the driving force of their group and their new-found creative sisterhood.

Collabor-he-Artists meet once a month for a creative play date and lunch. They laugh, they confide and they conspire. What once seemed outrageous and undefined is now protocol. (“Just bring something red,” Mary Ellen directed. “Scraps, objects, anything red. We’ll see what develops…”)

Now, instead, they talk casually about “finding their inner animal” and depicting it on a totem for their next project entitled Collabor-Animals. There’s been a blending of the spirits, a meeting of the minds and a collective appreciation for the power of “always thinking.”


Disclosure: I’m founder of Collabor-heARTists, although the name itself was another collaboration. This article was first published in the Fiber Arts Newsletter, May 2013. Collabor-Red Hearts was juried into the exhibit which opens May 23, 2013.

Do you have a successful artistic collaboration?