NORTH ADAMS --They glued. They painted. They sewed. And in the end, more than 30 artists created dozens of new works using vintage photos, magazine scraps, fabric, corrugated cardboard and film, over the course of a four-day art marathon at MCLA Gallery 51.
The artists, some coming from as far away as Boston and New York, were participating in "100 Hours in the Woodshed IV," a biennial 100-hour collage art marathon started at the gallery in 2007 by artist Daniel "Danny O" O'Conner.
The resulting work will be on display at the gallery, in the aptly titled show, "100 Hours in the Woodshed IV," through Feb. 24. An opening reception at MCLA Gallery 51, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
For many of the artists, the marathon is not only a chance to work alongside their peers, but also an opportunity to try out ideas during a constrained time period.
"I'm experimenting with some techniques and procedures and hoping something worthwhile happens," Sean Riley, of North Adams, said Saturday as he sewed paper collages together with a vintage sewing machine. "It's experimentation with a deadline. You have to push yourself a little. But what's great about it is there's less time for contemplation. It's mostly about action."
North Adams artist Mark Mulherrin, who has been a participant since 2007, said he sees the marathon as a time to make something he wouldn't normally have created in his studio.
"I like the challenge of the time frame," he said Saturday. "It's also nice to have the buzz and energy of other artists around you. I find that it makes me concentrate harder."
For this go-round, Mulherrin was challenging himself with the creation of a life-size concert harp made from corrugated cardboard.
"Williams College was gracious enough to let me spend an hour with their harp," he said. "I can look at pictures of concert harps all day, but a lot of the information I need is missing. I was able to go over and get all the measurements I needed. I need to be accurate if I want this to look like the real thing."
Maggie Hunt, a Boston artist participating in the event for her third time, said her previous experiences inspired her to learn how to sew.
"I definitely could not sew four years ago," she said, while working on two different dress designs. "When I was here two years ago, I was making quilts. After that, I asked myself why I was making quilts, when I could be making my own clothes. Now I can make my own patterns and my own clothes."
Recent MCLA graduate Pam Buchanan, of North Adams, said she was stepping outside her comfort zone of creating work in the tradition of folk arts and printmaking, as she delved into magazines for her collage work.
"My goal is I want to be a lot more whimsical with my creations," she said.
While the artists were being inspired to create new works, O'Conner was being inspired in another way.
"I want North Adams to be known as the place where the ‘Woodshed' began," he said. "This winter biennial is great, but it's no longer enough. I want to see this tribe of artists grow. I want to see 100 artists come every year. I want to see this become a summer collage festival, where artists and others flock to the city to see art being made in tents on the street. I want to turn it into an annual event. That's my dream now."