Collaged Memory Box

In this collage project inspired by Romare Bearden’s Evening of the Gray Cat, you can create an artistic Collaged Memory Box to celebrate a special person, place, or journey. Cut, paste, and collage your story on the lid, and keep favorite mementos inside the box.

Romare H. Bearden (American, 1911–88). Evening of the Gray Cat, 1982, collage on board. Gift of Bank of America. 2002.68.3. © 2020 Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Romare H. Bearden (American, 1911–88). Evening of the Gray Cat, 1982, collage on board. Gift of Bank of America. 2002.68.3. © 2020 Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

As a child, Romare Bearden traveled to Charlotte each summer to visit his great-grandparents. Many years later, he created a series of art called “Mecklenburg Memories,” inspired by his recollections of North Carolina in the early decades of the 1900’s.
Can you find the gray cat in this scene?

“A work of art can always keep growing. You can always add something to it each time you see it.”

-Romare Bearden

Bearden’s Studio on Canal Street, New York City, October 23 1976 Photography © Blaine Waller, 1976

About the Artist:

Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911. At a young age, he moved with his parents to Harlem, in New York City to seek opportunities that weren’t available to African Americans in the south. As an adult, Bearden became known as one of the most important American artists of the 20th century.  Combining images from magazines, prints, and colored and textured papers to create collage “paintings,” his art told many stories about the Black experience, classical literature and art, and cultural history.


SUPPLIES:

• Shoe box, or any box with a lid
• Piece of paper cut the size of the box lid
• Scissors
• Glue
• Pencil
• Small paintbrush to paint glue onto paper
• Small container for glue (add a drop or two of water)
• Collage material cut from magazines, catalogs, recycled artwork, envelopes, photos, greeting cards etc.
Optional: White paper and markers or paint to create your own collage paper


Instructions:

To make some of your own hand-painted papers like Bearden did, use markers or paints to create patterned and colorful papers. When they dry, cut them into shapes or add to the background. Check out the other Mint Museum Create at Home projects for some inspiration.

Gather your supplies. Look through the collage materials for images and patterns that appeal to you or bring back a memory. Draw out any elements you would like to add.

Cut out your shapes and elements, and start arranging them onto the box lid, or onto a piece of paper the size of your lid that you’ll glue down to the lid. Layer and overlap the pieces to add more depth to your collage, and play with different placements.

Once you’ve chosen your final arrangement, it’s time to glue. Put some glue in a small container and add a few drops of water to thin it. Using a paintbrush to apply the glue, paint a thin layer of glue to the back of each piece or to the surface, making sure to secure the edges.

When you’re finished gluing, look at your collage and think about the images you chose and how they relate to your memories. What feelings come up? This gray cat feels proud that his picture made it into our collage!

 


 

Option: Write a note, short story, or poem about your project inspiration and drop it in the box. Our project was inspired by fun memories of traveling with a good friend.

Challenge: Fill the background with a grid of horizontal and vertical rectangles of different sizes and colors, then build your collage on top of it.

Simplify: Instead of a box, collage onto a colorful piece of paper.  This makes it easier to fill your space.

 


Learn More: There are so many great resources about Romare Bearden! Below are a few. As you view his art, look for some of these themes:

Trains, large hands, birds, musicians, windows, cats, roosters, the sun, the moon

The Romare Bearden Foundation

• YouTube Video: Trains, Snakes, and Guitars- The Art of Romare Bearden

Family Guide for Southern Recollections, a 2012 Mint Exhibition

The Mint Museum From Home is Sponsored by Chase.