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.


Erin Dean

“Once I had everything extracted, I was able to group them and then come up with some themes.



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I’m a mom. A cosmetologist (aka underpaid therapist). I always have a project going on whether it’s repainting my house inside and out, remodeling my salon every few years, building a cabin, a deck or gardens and then some. Phew! I love to travel the world. I have an upcoming trip with my husband and sixteen year old son to Vietnam in December. So I basically obsess for months on researching and writing the perfect itinerary before I go on a trip. That’s a fun hobby for me. And I’ve been a bit obsessive over my favorite band, Phish, for almost 30 years, and traveled all over the country and several others to see them.



How much experience do you have with collage?

This was my first collage experience. But I found it to be enjoyable.


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?

LOL! I had a really hard time sourcing materials for this. I ended up looking through a picked over bin of old rags at the Nevada City library and left with several political, a couple knitting, one National Geographic and one Vogue. Thank goodness for that one Vogue! So I really didn’t have a chance to be picky. And if I had a choice I would not have chosen those. But once you cut them all up you can pull something together from anything.


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?

To be completely honest, I just cut out a bunch of pictures and hoped that something would come to mind. Once I had everything extracted, I was able to group them and then come up with some themes.


How did your background and life experiences inform your collages?

Well I have one titled “mother”, so that was a theme taken from experience. Then I have another about travel, cats, hairstyling and then politics. They are all just things that are relevant to my life personally. I didn’t come up with anything out of this world, but I was able to relate them to my history.


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?

In the living room. I have a giant coffee table. So over the course of several days I was cutting and tearing and had piles all over the table. I must have vacuumed 50 times. And I had my family, the dog, the cats, the blaring TV and whatever friend happened to stop by, directly in my workspace but it was fine. When I write I need quiet, undisturbed time. But when I’m doing art I don’t mind the chaos that surrounds. That’s what I like about art, it fits in with my life just fine and I can still be with my family.


Scissors or X-Acto?

Scissors and tearing.


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

Hmmm, nothing major except I feel I’m thinking bigger now in regards to layout. I felt a little deer in the headlights when I made the collages but next time I feel like I can really think outside the box.


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

Yes, definitely. I don’t think I have hidden meanings emerging, but the way I see collage and hope to arrange things in the future has changed.


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

Hmm, maybe I’m not that deep. I don’t think Covid has changed me. It’s like vacation, once you are back, it’s like it never happened!