Collage Exhibit Benefits Healing Newtown

The theme of the collage exhibit opening Friday, June 27, in Newtown is "Celebration of Your Life." Meegan Foley, one of the artists and the co-curator of the exhibit, translates into a clothesline full of clothes.

"We are taught not to air that dirty laundry. But dirty laundry doesn't look all that different. Everybody has underwear. Everybody has pants," Foley said. "We all make mistakes. We do the best we can ... and live with our mistakes."

Foley, who is from Stratford, has created the collage, "Nothing to Hide,' which will be up alongside the work of three other Connecticut female collage artists at Newtown town hall, in an exhibit whose proceeds partially benefit Healing Newtown, a local arts initiative that sprang up after the school shootings of Dec. 14, 2012.

To Sheila Margaret Mullen, "Celebration of Your Life" means typewriters, but she isn't exactly sure why.

"I'm trying to think of why the typerwriter is so representative of me and why I love them. I think it might be that it is something that brings everyone back, something tactile, pounding on the typewriter, something that's missing," she said. "Some writers write differently on a manual typewriter than on a computer."

Mullen, an East Hampton resident whose job is teaching sign langauge, contributed two pieces to the show. The typewriter piece has vintage typewriter ads as the background, and is enhanced by ViewMaster reels, empty typewriter ribbon reels, pharmaceutical vials, buttons.

Mullen's other piece has a large portrait of President Barack Obama as the centerpiece. He's surrounded by postage stamps, "White House" brand fruit-crate stickers, Illinois Central Railroad tickets and other ephemera.

Stefanie Lagana, who lives in Sandy Hook, celebrated her life with three quilted-and-appliqued images of her town.

"The rooster is the town mascot. My house is filled with roosters. Sixty percent of the homes in Newtown come with roosters," she said. "It fits Newtown, because roosters are about new beginnings. ... In retrospect with everything that's happened here, everybody is trying to move on, to move forward."

The rooster artwork, "Newtown A New Day," sits beside two landscape depictions of the town, both of which feature a church steeple and flying flag. One is surrounded by 26 stars, to represent the 20 children and six adults who died on that tragic day.

Virginia Zimmerman, who also lives in Sandy Hook, looks to her family for inspiration. Over the years, she has amassed a collection of antique family photos and letters, and uses them as the basis for a "Love Letters" series of collaged paper lithography monoprints.

"These are people I never met. I didn't hear very much about them. What I know about them is from the letters and old photographs," Zimmerman said. "I think the series is a celebration of the intimate bond between people. Love is timeless and powerful. It can cross generations as well as actual miles without losing any of its vibrancy."

"CELEBRATION OF YOUR LIFE" wil be at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose St., from June 27 to Aug. 8. An opening reception will be held Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.. An artists' talk is scheduled for the last day, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. A portion of the proceeds of the sales of the works, and any donations, will benefit Healing Newtown. Details: and