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  • Behind the Paper

    “The best way to be stimulated as a writer is to read, and the best way to be energized as a visual artist is to look at art,” Nancy Hathaway says. Hathaway is primarily a writer but she is also an artist whose visual work has been published in 3Elements Review. We wanted to recognize her not only for the work she does but also for her dedication as an artist and to our journal.


    Hathaway has published three collages in 3Elements: the front and back covers of Issue 2 and a piece called “Bludgeon, Dirge (Bartok), Doppelganger” in Issue 5.


    She also created two pieces for Issue 8: “Poe Kit #1” and “Poe Kit #2.” But she missed the deadline because, just as she was finishing the collages, she tripped over a backpack and was catapulted against a wall. The accident left her in the hospital with a broken femur.


    “By the time I limped back home, the deadline had come and gone but my desk was still a sea of paper,” Hathaway says. She decided to finish the collages and send them to 3E anyway.


    Hathaway has been making collages since she was in high school but has only recently sent them to be published, starting with 3Elements. Not surprisingly, she has amassed a vast collection of papers—plain, fancy, origami, wrapping, marbleized, tissue, tracing, sandpaper, music, mesh, celestial maps, newspapers—and, of course, an array of images.


    “I collect images all the time,” Hathaway says. “I take photographs, tear pictures out of newspapers and magazines, draw, download images, and pick up ephemera from city sidewalks.”


    To create a collage, Hathaway sifts through her collection of images until her selections start to coalesce. Then, she alters the images by using both her home printer and the industrial-strength Xerox machine at Staples. She further tinkers with these images using paint, oil crayons, ink, stamps and other tools until they become unique versions of their original selves.


    Finally, she arranges the images so that they connect on the paper. This task isn’t always easy. “Finding a happy arrangement takes time,” she says. “There are always last-minute additions, deletions, and mistakes. As with writing, part of the challenge is knowing when to stop.”


    “Poe Kit #1” and “Poe Kit #2” were inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s works. Recently, Hathaway has been limiting herself to creating collages in black and white. But we see hints of color in the two recent pieces as homages to The Masque of the Red Death and The Gold-Bug.



    “I’m a fan not just of Poe’s horror stories and tales of the supernatural but also of his journalism,” Hathaway says. “Poe loved astronomy and cosmology (and other sciences), and I wanted to make sure my collages reflected that interest.”


    Besides creating collages, Hathaway has written articles, short pieces and a dozen books. The Friendly Guide to the Universe and Native American Portraits 1862-1918 are just two of her many published books.


    “I enjoy writing and making art, but if I had to choose, I would pick writing.”

    Although Hathaway sees herself as primarily a writer, we hope to see more of her eye-catching collages in the future. Their edginess entails a genre all their own.


    We are big fans of Nancy’s written and visual work and it meant a lot to us that she thought to show us what our journal inspired her to create and that she finished these pieces despite the deadline passing. We hope you enjoy these Poe-inspired pieces as much as we do.

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