Artist's circular collages have a Victorian feel

Jan 3, 2013

If you sit down to get your hair cut at Tromblay Salon and Gallery in Kalamazoo, you might wonder why the woman in that photo on the wall looks so familiar.

“My face is in a lot of them, so I think people will put two and two together,” says collage artist Eana Apple Agopian.

She works as a front desk manager and receptionist at the salon and has her art collages hanging on the walls, some of which have photos of her in them. Agopian’s art is similar to Victorian paper collages.

“Photography and magazines was this new thing and people wanted to collect it. And it was just this—just a cool little handicraft that Victorian ladies got into,” Agopian says.

Rebecca Thiele: What elements do you take out of that that they had in the original Victorian paper collages?

Eana Agopian: I guess that it’s just a lot of these little intricate, tiny, flowery, feathery images.

One of the most interesting things about Agopian’s collages is that most of them are arranged in a circle, like Hindu mandalas.

“I’m really inspired by nature and images and shapes that reappear in nature, and the circle is a pretty constant image and shape. And I usually start each piece with a circle of some sort and kind of go from there, and things just kind of radiate out from the center,” says Agopian. “I feel like circles you can go big and small and it’s still always the same shape. Whereas if you go with a rectangle it’s like you’re boxed in by an 8x10 or 11x14, and it just kind of starts to look stale for me.”

In Agopian’s work, you might find images like fashion models from an old book, song birds, planets and constellations, but also found objects like bottle caps, keys, or stamps.

“I got really into pressing leaves and flowers this last summer. I built a big flower press, and went through my yard and on some walks in various state parks and just collected things,” Agopian says. “Tried not to take too much, maybe not more than what you would normally step on in a walk.”

These photos, images, and objects all act like clues to the mystery behind the art.

"I’m adding all these elements slowly to these pieces and building up layers and building up layers of meaning, which I see in one way and the viewer can take in another way,” Agopian says. “You know once they’re all together in one unified piece they take on a whole new level of meaning. And yeah, it is like a puzzle. You know every time you set out to make a piece of art, you’re kind of solving some kind of problem, like ‘Here’s a blank canvas. How am I going to fill it?’”

Eana Apple Agopian’s collages will be on display at Tromblay Salon in Kalamazoo until the end of February.