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Artist Brings 3-D Collages to Pound Ridge Library

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Debra Schaffer’s career in art began when started created sculptures from stone and wood more than 40 years ago. In 1971, she added the unique medium of three-dimensional photo collages to her repertoire and has since been lauded with numerous awards from the art world.

Schaffer brings her work to the Pound Ridge Library this month with an exhibit that opens with a reception on Saturday, Dec. 17, 3-5 p.m.

“They are very sculpture-like,” Schaffer said of her work. “Technically they’re similar to carving.  Whatever is closest comes forward. But they have the same qualities of a painting: unity, perspective and focus.”

Schaffer, who lived in Armonk for 43 years and currently resides in Ridgefield, Conn., said she doesn’t consider herself a photographer. She uses a simple point-and-click camera to take her pictures, which are then trimmed to fit the collage using surgical scissors.

Each work consists of multiple layers of photos that Schaffer has taken of various places or events and then cut up like puzzle pieces and reassembled into a collage that will ultimately resemble a painting.

“The hardest part is placing the photos,” she said. “A lot of these photos were taken in Europe. Each collage is site-specific. I don’t mix up the photos. Some are eight or nine layers deep.”

Schaffer builds up the layers of photos with various types of materials to create a three-dimensional scene she hopes will draw the viewer into the picture.

“I also add elements such as stones, wood, hand-made clay items, greenery, miniatures and found objects to the photos,” she said.

Schaffer’s husband, Lewis builds the mats and the frames to hold the collages.

“The mats are shaped to make it all look like a puzzle,” she said.

The late New York Times critic William Zimmer awarded Schaffer a Best in Show award, and she’s allow received awards from curators at the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Hudson River Museum, Katonah Museum and the Newark Museum.

While there are some works Schaffer says she wants to hang on to, most of the pieces on display at the library will be for sale.

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