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.


Megan Brown

What once knocked down my ability to express myself is now building back up to a stronger version of me with a more creative portal to express by.




Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

My name is Megan Brown and I am an up-and-coming artist! Most of my art has been personal up until this point, and I am currently taking various courses to learn more about digital art. I also have a BA in Music, which I would love to somehow incorporate into my art in some way in the near future!


How much experience do you have with collage?

Outside of this project, I have little to no experience with collage besides a few projects I may have worked on in elementary school. I had a lot of fun with this project though, it definitely pushed me to think outside of the box and to get creative!


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?

I wasn’t super picky when it came to choosing materials for this project, I was mostly looking around for anything that looked cool or interesting to me. I decided to peruse my local thrift store for materials I could use, and I came across a book called Stained & Art Glass by Judith Neiswander and Caroline Swash. It has a whole bunch of really fun and interesting images of glass art pieces, including stained glass which is what eventually inspired me to create a series of collages based around my own life experiences as well as growing up in the Catholic faith.


After I found Stained & Art Glass, I decided to look for other books/magazines that I thought would fit within the color scheme and I ended up picking up a book about watercolors called Watercolours Unleashed  by Jane Betteridge and a Smithsonian magazine from July/August 2023 called American Tapestries. Both of them had very beautiful and colorful imagery that I think paired well with the stained glass photos. I also came across a LIFE magazine from 2014 called Farewell. Most of the images were in black and white which I thought would be an interesting contrast to the very colorful images in the other three books/magazines that I picked up. I wasn’t sure at first if I would even use the images from this magazine, but I ended up using images from this magazine in almost every single collage along with several images from Stained & Art Glass and Watercolours Unleashed.


Though these weren’t used as much throughout this series, I should mention that I also used a few images of hummingbirds and ducks that I got from a National Geographic book called the Fieldguide to the Birds of North America, as well as a couple of flower images from Christopher Woods’ Encyclopedia of Perennials: A Gardener’s Guide.


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?

I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to go about this project originally, but I knew that I wanted to draw from personal experience when creating these collages, whether it was a general story of my life, a specific incident, or my own personal thoughts/feelings. As I was looking for materials and picking specific images that caught my eye, I realized that I wanted to make a series based around my experience of growing up in the Catholic faith and eventually becoming who I am today.


How did your background and life experiences inform your collages?

I mostly grew up in a very creative household, ranging from drawing for fun to show my siblings and/or playing music in an ensemble, and I wanted to express that upbringing in this project through the very colorful backgrounds. Being that I also grew up Catholic, I also decided to incorporate stained glass into my work as an homage to that. Stained glass was very prominent in my life in the sense that I went to church almost every week and every church I went to had full stained glass windows depicting various religious figures. It was such an integral part of my youth that I felt I should reflect that in this work, since this is a piece about my life experiences so far.


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 mostly worked in isolation for this project; I find that I like to be by myself free from distractions when I’m working on a project like this. I also like to listen to ambient music while I work as background noise. While I do prefer to be isolated from other people/distractions, I don’t like having absolute silence; I need some sort of “white noise” to help my brain think. So, I’ll usually have some sort of background music or even a podcast to create that “white noise”.


I do think that having that white noise had some influence on my work; I was mostly listening to ambient music based off of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, which has a very whimsical/magical tone to it and I found myself being drawn to/using the very colorful images from both Stained & Art Glass and Watercolours Unleashed.


Scissors or X-Acto?

Both! Although I mostly used scissors since I feel a little more comfortable with them. They really came in handy for the smaller detailed work such as cutting around the bird images. However, the X-Acto


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

When I was creating the collages, I was mostly matching images together that I thought looked cool; I didn’t really have a specific message or story in mind when I was creating them. I just knew that I wanted to evoke my thoughts and feelings in regards to my life experiences. I wasn’t expecting how much variety I had to the order I could put my collages in. Even though I had a specific message in mind, there are so many options for me to arrange this work in.


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

I’ve realized that there are several different ways you could look at a collage, and I think all of those ways are the right way, even if that’s not the original meaning that you got from it when you first looked at it and/or created it. I think every collage is a journey in its own right; even looking at the current order of my collages now, I can see new ways to arrange them to create new meanings. For example, my current arrangement ends with Farewell, which I think of as a farewell to youth and a hello to adulthood. However, I could also put Lost in Life there, which could reflect my current standing as an adult; my feeling of being lost and a sitting duck, rather than feeling lost in faith.

As far as hidden meanings, I realize that a few of the collages feature a black and white image of a person surrounded by color. When I was creating the collages, I didn’t really intend for that to have any significance; in all honesty, the only photos of people I had on hand were mostly black and white so I didn’t have very many options to choose from. However, I could possibly read that as a reflection of my emotions/mental health.


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

Since we have reached a point where the pandemic isn’t as prominent as it was these past few years, I don’t think it had too much of an influence on my work as a whole. I will say that Lost in Life was very much inspired by the pandemic though. Instead of feeling lost in faith, I originally intended that collage to be the end of my series, as a way to express my current feeling of being lost and unsure of a path to take.

I graduated from college in mid-2019 and I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do as a career at the time, so I spent a lot of time kind of floundering. I ended up taking on a retail job to buy some time, but then the pandemic hit a few months later and it wasn’t until last year that I felt like I was in a place to think about a career path again.