Dusti Bongé poem and collage: Green Paper Holes

The surprises keep coming with this week’s featured artwork in our partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to to promote the artistic legacy of Dusti Bongé, Mississippi’s first Abstract Expressionist painter, through exhibition, conservation, scholarship, and education.

Ligia M. Römer, Executive Director at the foundation, as always, provides insight into this week’s piece.

Dusti Bongé, Green Paper Holes, 1978, mixed media collage, 13” x 20”. Paul Bongé Collection

You may know that in 1982 Dusti Bongé published a book about her art “Dusti Bongé: The Life of an Artist” (edited by Nancy Longnecker). The book presents a personal glimpse into Dusti’s artistic life, offering examples of both some of her artwork and some of her poetry. In this unique set-up, it shows an artist who looks at life and art from many viewpoints and interprets or expresses what she observes in various artistic forms.

Here we have an example of her pursuing a rather enigmatic idea she refers to as “Green Paper Holes” in both painting and poetry. This work show three green rectangles floating in the foreground each with a hole in them, offering a view through to a soft colored background. Two of the rectangles cast shadows, the third one, which is rather ethereal, does not.

Dusti wrote this short poem:

Green paper holes

To pass thru

Where waste wants not

Shadows change against the true

Pasted like posters

Plentiful and pure

There is no date for the poem. However, interestingly enough, the reference to green paper holes exists as early as 1960 when an artwork titled as such was listed on one of Dusti’s shipping lists to the Betty Parsons Gallery.

Dusti then revisited the notion in the 1970s on more than one occasion, including using actual sheets of green paper that have holes cut into them. These sheets served as templates and as collage elements as you can see to the right of this work.

In all instances it is the ‘green paper” that has holes in it, allowing a glimpse to something beyond. 

Ultimately, in the 1980s, she executed a very large canvas under the title Green Paper Holes.

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