When David Armstrong tells people he creates collage art, it's usually paired with a caveat.
"I have to explain what it's not," he says.
One look at his tiny works indicates why. Each postcard-size piece resembles a strange photograph or drawing. They are seamless but for a slight incongruity in lighting between the foreground and background. And though they could be the product of digital manipulation, they're made the old-fashioned way.
Armstrong, a 30-year staff member at Colorado College's information technology department, creates them using a series of fine scissors and X-ACTO knives, thin layers of rubber cement and a bit of pencil to camouflage the white edges of his paper pieces.
Twenty-three of Armstrong's works will be on display at CC's Coburn Gallery next week, along with poems and short pieces of creative writing inspired by his art from local and national writers that include former Pikes Peak poet laureate Aaron Anstett and current Colorado poet laureate David Mason. This show commemorates the publication of a limited-edition art book featuring Armstrong's work and these writings, printed last year by CC.
The show and book stem from the strong role Armstrong feels language plays in his art. Titles are integral to the pieces, he says, but beyond that, words and stories develop naturally. A striking example is "The Wine-Dark Sea," a brooding image of a bed frame behind dark, roiling water.
Armstrong says the image came to him one day out of the blue — a rarity, as he usually thumbs through magazines and books for inspiration — complete with a compelling phrase Armstrong recalls from The Odyssey, in which the hero returns to the water with each travail.
"Odysseus goes back to the 'wine-dark sea,' it seems like, every chapter," Armstrong says.
The work is lovely both visually and conceptually. A member of CC's English faculty owns the piece, and uses it when his classes study James Joyce's Ulysses.
Not bad for cut-and-paste.