Daniel Voelker: The Mass (Paper) Murderer of Seattle


by Sarra Scherb

Volume 1 of Weave Magazine – March, 2014

Daniel Voelker might be on his way to becoming the George R. R. Martin of collage. The way he describes his art-making process, you’d think it was a life-and-death saga fit for an HBO series.

“I often see the [paper] shapes I’m putting down as supporting cast members to an overarching dramatic event,” he says. “I’m always surprised which ones survive and which ones sacrificed themselves so that others could exist…It’s really quite dramatic, this psychological
game I play.”

Finger-smudged, textured, and subtle, Voelker’s abstract collaged works are made from multiple monochrome charcoal sketches that have been sliced up and reassembled on a panel. It’s difficult to tell at a glimpse that these works are collage: the black charcoal is so dark and dense, the grays so gradated, that the eye almost misses the many fine edges of individual shapes.

Though these Cubist-flavored compositions are often small on the wall, they demand attention; seeming to seethe, grow, and suck our gaze into their depths. Voelker skilfully draws the eye in with hypnotic patterns, and moves our gaze around the composition using juxtapositions of black and white.

“Collage allows you to put light valued shapes on top of darker ones—much like paintings,” he explains. “In my older drawings I would often draw myself into corners—any area touched by black was now gray…and you couldn’t use lights anymore. Collage has given me the freedom to get my lights back into the work.”

Though he works in shades of gray, being an artist is a black-and-white choice for Voelker. He fell in love with abstract art during his undergraduate years at the University of Washington School of Fine Arts, and turned from studying graphic design to working in paint, charcoal and collage. 2012 saw him throwing energy and attention into learning
his fundamentals at the Gage Academy of Art, in Mark Kang-O’Higgins’ Atelier.

Now in his late thirties, Voelker has the goal of being a full-time artist in his sights. Inspired by the Romantic sense of adventure and beauty he sees in the Northwest, he feels a sense of pride in adding his voice to the Seattle arts scene.

Let’s just hope he keeps his penchant for slicing and dicing his cast members strictly to paper and panel.

Contact the artist at voelkerart.com

Images at top:

Guardian – Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board

Convincing them you’re a ghost… Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board

Tidal – Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board


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