My name is Celeste LeTard (formerly Celeste LeTard Williams). I am a mixed media artist. My preferred medium is collage. I work with images gleaned from magazines, as well as found and purchased papers. I might be considered a paper hoarder, if there was such a thing…
I love to experiment with the juxtaposition of iconic images against colors and textures not normally associated with them. My fascination with diverse cultures is what inspires me to take all of those images that seem foreign to us and to place them alongside more familiar icons. I also love to use frames, and will make them from anything: the border of an oriental rug, a doorway or arch, or hand-cut designs.
In addition to my work in collage, I also enjoy making assemblage pieces and shrines. My shrine frames usually house a picture of a saint or the Virgin of Guadalupe. I have also made shrine boxes out of former puzzles and toiletries boxes. My story boxes are assembled inside of unpainted boxes meant to house two decks of cards. I use images from Loteria, which is an iconic Mexican bingo game that incorporates images and words.
I am fascinated by all cultures, but have a special place in my heart for Mexico. I became a teacher of English to speakers of other languages after the French and Spanish Exploratory program was cut from our system. I instantly identified with the students, having traveled to Mexico as a child. Since then, I have been privileged to travel to Mexico on various grants. In 2007, I went to Morelia, the heart of the craft center of Michoacan, to study Spanish and to collect art. I was able to visit Patzcuaro and the surrounding craft villages, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, and Puebla. In 2010, I was accepted as a fellow for a National Endowment of the Humanities seminar on Mesoamerican Culture, and stayed in Oaxaca for another five weeks.
I collect Mexican art, and have shared these items with my school and my students. I also have an extensive Loteria game collection, and have created my own Loteria images. For this endeavor, I became acquainted with Adobe Photoshop Elements, and have several series under my belt. Part of my project for the NEH grant was to come up with a lesson plan so that teachers can use Loteria to teach about culture and literature. I hope to be able to expand this so that others can create their own decks.