How It All Began

how it all beganMontage Mirage Photo Tapestries began in the vicinity of 1983, I went to a New Year’s Eve workshop with close friends. We created rituals to bid farewell to the old year, asked forgiveness from any we may have harmed and forgave everyone for anything real or perceived. We released what was incomplete, no longer useful or already gone.

New Year’s day, we reconvened to open to the new energies we wanted to invite into our homes, hearts and lives. Everyone got busy cutting out images from old magazines, then pasting them onto poster board. It was our treasure map and vision board. Each of us shared the meanings behind the colorful images that we wished to create in the new year. It was amazing to see the variety of things people were able to find to populate their New Year montage.

When I got home, I tacked it up on the inside of my door where I could see it daily. Then, something happened. I started to add pictures to it, then added more and more. I bought additional poster board and covered the entire door. I couldn’t stop. What got hold of me was the realization that I was communicating with my unconscious whose language is imagery. A direct conversation ensued. I found myself constantly adding new pictures as I felt complete with the old.

For example, on the bottom of the door I attached a star exploding in the darkness of space. It stayed there for quite awhile until one day, I understood what the image represented in my early childhood. Being curious, I opened up a metal bobby pin to see what would happen if I put it into the wall socket. The electricity burst out burning my hand, some of my hair and throwing me backwards! I instinctively ran to the bathroom & held my hand under the cold water. My sister, Carole, came running upstairs to see where the smell was coming from. I was badly frightened and wanted to avoid punishment so I tried to stay calm while saying I didn’t know (all the time holding cold running water on my hand).

I had completely forgotten this incident until the star burst insinuated itself into my consciousness. Then, I imagined talking to that young child in me. I told her that she wasn’t “bad” just curious. I held and comforted her as she shed the burden of her secret. Once resolved, I replaced that image with the next.

Perhaps you can guess what happened next? Or maybe not. With more poster sheets, I montaged an entire wall. Yes, I even montaged the space above my double closet doors! I would wake up with the urge to go to stationary stores looking for beautiful images that would inspire me. I would intuit, “Today I’ll go to Tiburon for cards,” and I would find the perfect themes. I thought of it as a visual journal. The unseen revealed. Giving form to the vague patternings of the Spirit. A dynamic quest for greater consciousness. That was my first wall. Later, I montaged a second wall after moving to Southern California with Carole.


Author: Gwen Sarandrea has authored numerous books including Counseling Case Study & The Healing House, The Gift of Dad’s Final Years. She is also a portrait montage artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gwen has a love of helping people cope with the aging and death of parents and other loved ones. Visit to pick up your copies of Gwen’s books.



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