“As the world becomes more digital, I find myself doing the opposite,” says Marc Alain, whose exuberant collage works appear to be Photoshopped on first impression. “I prefer to work analog,” he insists. “The hand is vital to the process, adding intuition through cutting, arranging, and gluing pieces.”
Once a digital devotee, Marc spent the first 10 years of his career in New York staging elaborate portraits that would undergo digital manipulation after being photographed. Finding himself at a creative crossroads, Marc eventually abandoned photography in favor of the analog imagery he found in magazines, books, and on the internet. Gravitating toward plants, animals, and flowers that remind him of his rural upbringing in northern New Jersey, Marc creates kaleidoscopic landscapes that reveal his love of the American Northeast. “I have taken this place for granted, having lived here my entire life,” he says, citing Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Frederic Church as inspirations “both for their love of this area and their reservations about early American settlement.”
Hoping to reach a wide audience, Marc uses universal symbols to express the joy he finds in nature. “I feel art and beauty is a right all people deserve to enjoy regardless of class, location, or upbringing,” he tells NOT REAL ART. “This is why I use symbols like the heart in my collages, which can be understood in any language.” Fascinated by notions of romance, kitsch, and pop culture, Marc steeps his work with plenty of each, savoring the bounty of color, texture, and narrative that results from his experimentation.
Beyond joy, Marc’s work speaks to the human condition as it relates to the natural world. “Rather than depicting specific figures, I show the aftermath of people's actions,” he says. In “Harm’s Way” a pair of distant towers pump plumes of smoke into the air, while plastic bags float past, embedded among the downy white clouds above. “Heart Hive” boasts a collection of Greek statues, in ruins and lost to time. “All living things on our planet have coexisted peacefully with nature throughout its history,” Marc says. “It is fascinating and terrifying that we are the first to upset this balance. My work expresses shame, guilt, and a desire to find a solution.”
“All living things on our planet have coexisted peacefully with nature throughout its history.” — Marc Alain
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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