The word “collage” comes from the French coller, which means, literally, “to glue.” Fran Forman uses virtual glue and her trusty computer to create striking images that juxtapose modern and bygone worlds in startling ways.
Until just a few years ago, Forman was a corporate website designer by day and an artist by night. When her job ended, she made art her full-time priority and hasn’t looked back since. “It was fantastic because I suddenly found myself, at this stage of my life, with the freedom to really create things that have been sitting in my head.” Though her pieces usually focus on a single 19thcentury portrait, there are larger themes at work. “My art reflects our connection to, and interdependence on, the natural world and the generations that preceded us. I think my images show that we’re not alone in the world, that we need to celebrate our relationship to the animals, land and oceans with whom we share this planet.”
Forman’s commitment to the environment and social justice was hatched as she came of age in the 1960s. After receiving her master’s degree in social work, she spent two years working with heroin addicts. “It was a time in which, honestly, I couldn’t really imagine that doing art, for me, would make a difference in the world. It felt too narcissistic.” But Forman eventually found herself obeying her artistic inclinations, more interested in rearranging her office space and imagining possible wall colors than completing the tasks she’d been hired to do. So, she began exploring her creative side and eventually got a master’s degree in graphic design and photography.
Though Forman has pursued jewelry making, sculpture and painting, she always finds herself coming back to collage. “I used to make collages when I was a kid and I would use these kinds of images, a lot of found objects and a lot of old photographs.”
Forman’s art has been featured in Calyx, a journal of art and literature by women, and has also graced book covers and magazines. Her work is part of the permanent collection at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Mass.
In 2008, Forman returned to her activist roots to work full-time for the Obama presidential campaign. “I loved the energy and excitement—and also because I was so terrified of what the outcome would be if we didn’t win— I just really threw myself into it.” Though she’s not taking all the credit, she is proud that every state she worked on voted Democratic.