Most people’s eyes gloss over the junk mail, flyers and various other advertisements that make their way to our mailboxes on a daily basis. Sandhi Schimmel Gold turns them into art. With her striking, intricate yet simple paper mosaics, the Virginia-based artist repurposes the advertising messages and images that bombard us on a daily basis to, in her own words, “create a new image of beauty—an eclectic and tactile portrait redrawn and reworked in my imagination, utilizing materials that would otherwise go to waste.”
To turn scraps of paper into works of art, the artist calls upon her primary source of inspiration: The female face. Society’s obsession with female beauty is undeniable, but the beauty presented in advertising is two-dimensional in the figurative as well as the literal sense, airbrushed and Photoshopped to oblivion and usually devoid of all but the most basic emotion (Wow, that model’s really happy with her new mascara!). Through her mosaic portraits, however, Schimmel Gold uses thousands of pieces of images and text cut from these advertisements to express the true inner beauty of woman: “What we express, how we hide or show our feelings—our sense of humor [and] sexuality.”
Such is the case with Schimmel Gold’s “Emotional Influences” series, which has as its subject the connection between emotion and song. In the case of Tosca, our Work of the Week, the song in question is “Vissi d’arte” from the Puccini opera Tosca, in which the title character, “the opera singer with the eyes of black, threatened with rape by her lover’s imprisoner, sings of her life dedicated to art and love, [then] fights him off and kills him,” explains Schimmel Gold, who set out to capture the “despair and overwhelming emotions” of the tragic heroine.