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Piecing together works of art: Codlin makes collages out of letters, receipts and sheet music

Old papers become colorful artwork in the former screened porch that now serves as Terri Codlin’s art studio.

Codlin said that she takes inspiration from the work of Eric Carle, the art projects that she has done with her Montessori students and the nature that surrounds her as she creates her works of art.

“I’ve always been drawn to trees,” Codlin said. “I’ve always loved especially the fall trees. They really captivate me, but being a part of having the trees around us all the time certainly adds to the peacefulness of being able to create. So, many of my pieces are of trees.”

Codlin used to work at the Montessori school at First Presbyterian, and she still works with kids at Hillside Montessori. She said that that experience led her to the style of art that she uses today.

“Even when I taught at First Presbyterian Montessori, we did a unit on Eric Carle because his books are so appealing for the pre-school age,” Codlin said.

“Then, I was fortunate enough to see a video tape of him showing how he prepared his art, and that must have stayed with me all of these years because that is where I found myself most drawn.”

She didn’t immediately realize her love of the collage technique.

In fact, it wasn’t until years after first encountering Carle’s work that she decided to create her own layered paper art.

“I started after I retired from teaching at First Presbyterian Montessori because I had been there for 24-years, and I hadn’t expected to retire when I did, so I was at loose ends,” Codlin said.

“I needed a creative outlet. I took drawing lessons from [one of my artist friends], and she was excellent, but I discovered that I am not that kind of artist. But she had a book about creating with paper, and it was such a match to know that there were other avenues for other mediums that you can use in art to express yourself, so this is just a match for me. I am thrilled to have found something that I can do to explore myself more.”

She said that she usually uses paper that she already has on hand — ranging from sheets of music to receipts to letters — to create her work. These papers are then painted with fluid acrylics to create a pallet. Codlin said creating a pallet of papers is her favorite part of her work. One of those works is featured on the flyer for the Visual Artists Alliance show at the LaGrange Art Museum.

“This whole design was actually inspired by a quilt pattern that I saw online,” Codlin said. “Both of my sisters are quilters, but I don’t have the patience to quilt. I was captivated by the fact that they used shades of purples and blues in all the shading. It really spoke to me. Plus, I love the whole perspective of looking up through the leaves. I’m honored that it was chosen to be part of the publicity post card for the LAM show.”

Codlin said that she is excited about the different types of art and the variety of artists that will be featured in this year’s show, especially considering VAAL’s growth in recent years.

“It is such a great show because the art is so diverse in the show,” Codlin said. “There are so many wonderful artists. I think this is VAAL’s 11th year, and we’ve grown from in the teens number of artists to like 45, so it is quite the avenue. Then all of those people have friends who show up, and it is a very popular exhibit.”

The Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange exhibit at the LaGrange Art Museum will hold its opening reception on Sept. 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The reception is free to the public. The show will remain on display at LAM through Oct. 6.

To Learn more about Codlin, visit Terricodlinart.com.