(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Physical newspapers may be part of a dying breed, but they still hold beauty and wonder for many. Long-time Montclair resident Peter Jacobs is one who not only loves newspapers, but creates art with them each day. In fact, he has created a collage from daily newspapers every single day, uninterrupted, for nearly 18 straight years.
Jacobs does everything old school. He cuts the newspaper with an X-acto knife on a self-healing mat. They are glued freely and then finally placed into 12 page Strathmore watercolor books. He uses a ph balancing spray to neutralize the newspaper acid and finally apply a UV satin varnish to the final collage. Every day’s collage is then shared upon completion online.
On October 5th, 2021, Jacobs created his 6,000 work for The Collage Journal. He produces a collage solely from the images and texts of that day’s newspaper. Whenever he travels, he chooses to use a local newspaper. The new environments and designs from the local papers help influence his work.
Working on a collage in Amsterdam 2017
“The Collage Journal's 6,000+ collages reside in over 500 Strathmore books and stored in 32 cases,” said Peter Jacobs. “I have thus-far used approximately 540 self-healing cutting boards, 2240 Exacto blades, and 2500 glue-sticks."
“As consistent as the newspaper is printed, each day, I sit down and construct/reconstruct my visual response and internal feelings in that morning’s collage,” continued Jacobs. “Like a written journal, a visual journal incorporates both external and personal experience. The Collage Journal has become integrated in my daily life as a meditation, contemplation and re-evaluation of culture and identity. I have not decided on an end date for this series. Quite possibly, the newspapers will stop production before The Collage Journal ends.”
His work has been exhibited in the mediums of collage, photography, mixed media, video and installation for over 35 years. Throughout the decades, he has had his work installed on the streets of Montclair, a park in the mountains of France, a biennial in Poland, and in numerous galleries and museum exhibitions. The PBS series State of the Arts featured him in 2012. Other highlights include being the inaugural installation of large scale mixed media portraits of artists, musician & actors in a new wing of The Montclair Art Museum in 2001. And having a ten year retrospective of The Collage Journal at The Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ in 2015.
“I explore formal concepts of displacement, radical juxtaposition, color theory and spatial relationships and muse with magical realism, architecture, poetry, humor, emotion and politics,” he explained. “I rarely have a predetermined concept based on the news, nor an end result in mind from the start. Generally, I gather a stew of what I am visually awakened by and allow my sub-conscious to navigate through the process.”
Jacobs sees the art of collage as visual jazz.
“Jazz is about freedom,” continued Jacobs. “The improvisational cuts of paper play solos, but also create a harmony. Each work freely moves through the dialogue of the layers. I am the architect of these layers, their rhythms, their radical juxtapositions, their perceptual harmonies and visual ironies. I almost always work first thing in the morning with my coffee. I feel that I am still dreaming a bit, and I do not have the baggage of the day interfering with the work. When I become immersed in the process, I complete the collage in a 2-4 hour window of time. Rarely, do I leave it and come back to it later that day. It is integral for me to have this uninterrupted focus. I stop at the point where I feel intuitively settled. I believe my role as an artist is to challenge preconceptions of days passed, and find a new way to see this day.”
“My works are built with structure and rationality, but welcome gesture and absurdity,” stated Jacobs. “They give meaning in life and in doubt.”