Cameo McRoberts' first exhibit at the Main Street Gallery focuses on creating new scenes by shaking up old images.
"Taken out of Context" opens on Jan. 8, and features McRoberts' collage-style artwork that provides a new perspective on women through images and text taken from old magazines, posters, books and other materials.
Speaking to the Daily News via phone on Tuesday afternoon, McRoberts explained she had always considered herself to be crafty, but was now "embarking on an artist's journey."
That inspiration came from "realizing that my interests (in) creating art and stuff go a little bit deeper than some of the things I was doing in the past," McRoberts said.
She recalled a visit to an antique store in Wisconsin, where she found stacks of old magazines such as Life, Time and Look, ranging in publication from the 1930s through recent decades.
McRoberts admitted that she was always saving interesting material, as she "always kind of looked at them from more of a crafty element."
It was what she found in those old magazines that inspired both the title and theme of her impending exhibit.
McRoberts said the idea came from "just sort of seeing how women were depicted in a lot of the reporting they were doing, even in these big huge magazines."
She specifically referenced a magazine feature about a pioneering female astronaut involved with the Apollo space program.
"Just sort of the language they were using to talk about her was still sort of diminutive," McRoberts said. "Like, 'Oh, this cute little lady can fly a plane, sort of stuff.'"
Those magazines — and stacks upon stacks of other print publications featuring women from years past and present — became the stuff of her exhibit.
"I sort of came up with this idea of removing those images and removing that language and sort of celebrating the beauty of those images, out of the context they were being talked about (in)," McRoberts said.
There are more than 20 pieces in "Taken out of Context," and all of McRoberts' work was created through various styles of collage.
"I really started researching collage as a fine art," she said.
"I was really looking at a lot of different collage artists to try to figure out how I was going to make it different than just sort of modge-podging magazines together," McRoberts continued. "There's a certain sensibility about collage and mixed media that sometimes falls a bit more into crafting or scrapbooking or sort of less looked at as a fine art."
McRoberts has experimented with several techniques during the past year that she has spent working on the exhibit.
"There's a few different very significant techniques that I've honed down on, and from there I've got a good sampling of each of those techniques to show," she said.
Some of her work is created through taking images from one magazine and overlaying them with photos from another publication.
"Then, there's some other ones where I'm really looking at using the images and the collage pieces almost as paint," McRoberts explained, adding that she has been experimenting with using the collage pieces as paint, allowing for bigger, layered pieces.
"It's really fun to get to play with," she said.
McRoberts sources her materials from a variety of places.
"The Friends of the Library is like a gold mine for just finding any source of images," she said.
McRoberts also uses current magazines, like Vogue.
"I love Vogue because the colors are so vibrant and they sort of go over the top with their fashion," she said.
While McRoberts said that she isn't a big fan of fashion magazines, they do offer valuable pieces, noting that her view of the magazines change when she starts "looking at it like the textures and the colors" that can be put to use.
It's taken McRoberts since the start of the pandemic to finish all her pieces for the exhibit.
"Basically, since COVID reality has hit, I've been working on this show, and a lot of time spent roaming through magazines and looking at images," she said. "If there was any silver lining in COVID, I had to stay home a lot and I had the opportunity to work on art a lot."
Even though the majority of the pieces are finished, McRoberts said she'll continue to put the finishing touches on her exhibit until the last minute.
She reflected on the beginning of her artist journey.
"As I've started working through the process of sort of learning this collage, I feel like I've kind of been learning the directions I'm going as I go," she said.
"I don't feel like I put the cart before the horse, but I certainly jumped in the deep end with just sort of deciding that I wanted to work in this medium and then applying for a show and getting a show," McRoberts added. "It really forced myself to figure out what I wanted to convey and how I wanted to learn how to do it."
The possibility of an in-person opening from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 8 at the Main Street Gallery is dependent on the COVID-19 situation in Ketchikan.
An online exhibit opening also will be available on Jan. 8 on the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council website.