Cohort 52 is a platform for emerging voices from the Applied Art & Design program at Sierra College in Northern California. Cohort 52 is facilitated by Assistant Professor Vincent Pacheco.


Crystal Greenhaw

These collages show exactly what exploring MY world would look like. 




Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I am a creative brain who is constantly finding a way to make art out of things.  I work as a house cleaner full time and I finally decided that was not fitting my needs any longer so I started school, again.  I attended an art school in the past to be an Interior Designer and while I finished that up, I still did not really know where I wanted to go with it.  I felt like it wasn’t necessarily the path I wanted to take, but I took the education with me and have slowly come to the understanding that that is just what it was. I wasted many years in between on an addiction I finally found a way out of, so here I am.  I am finally on my journey I have always wanted to be on; something that has come easy for me over the years and am happy to be learning on a deeper level.


How much experience do you have with collage?

I have done a very elementary level of collage, but have never created on this level before. And I absolutely fell in love with it.


Collage artists tend to be picky when it comes to their source material. Can you talk about your approach for selecting your images and/or publications?

My publications were very random. I had a few fashion magazines and some other home magazines with a lot of other stragglers.  I wanted to work with less color, but couldn’t find muted tones in a lot of the objects and patterns I was finding.


Were there any large themes you intended to explore or unpack before you began with this series of work? Did you stay on theme, or did things change as you began physically cutting and pasting images?

My theme changed pretty drastically once I started my first two.  A phone call of a friend’s death to overdose really changed everything for this project, but, at the same time, brought me to a level up with less thinking that I did not know I had.


How did your background and life experiences inform your collages?

These collages show exactly what exploring MY world would look like.  I am in my 40’s and I have seen and heard so much over those years, and have developed a certain aspect of this planet that many people do not pay attention to.  They may know about it, but we live in such a distracting world that keeps us from participating in the things that will help us be the best people we can be.  My life experience EMBODIES this zine.


What was your environment and set-up like when making the work? Did you listen to music? Did you work in isolation, or were you surrounded by distraction? Do you think this influenced the work you made?

I usually put on music or a show that is not distracting to me while I work. I have an industrial sized drafting table by my bay windows in my living room so I have a large and brightly lit space to create thoughts and inspiration.  I do my best work on my own, but have spent time with a classmate while we do our own work at my house.


Scissors or X-Acto?

X-Acto! I am good with scissors, but no thanks haha.


Was there anything unexpected that emerged while creating your work? Any new epiphanies?

As I said, definitely some unexpected blind sides while I did this project, but I do know now that filling a page with a mess of what I do not even want on the page is not something I will be doing from now on.


Looking at your work again, has your understanding of your collages changed over time? Has any hidden meaning emerged?

Collaging has me in a whole different realm of creativity sparked in my brain.  As long as I can find the right publications and art I can put into by hand I do not think I will stop doing this.  It is fascinating how I felt when I was creating these pieces.


Many artists are using the pandemic as a moment to pause and reflect. Do you think Covid-19 informed your work in any way? 

The pandemic brought on a whole new light for me when it happened.  My creativity blossomed and my spirituality really came to life during that time.  I may have spent a lot of time alone, but it almost entirely changed me as a person, in a good way.