From a single piece of paper, a million ideas can be born. On view until October 23 at Reeves House Visual Arts Center in Woodstock, Woodstock Arts Gallery’s new exhibition ‘Paper Cuts’ showcases the myriad ways paper can be transformed into a work of art.
Alongside featured artist Charles Clary, the gallery’s curator and director of visual arts, Nicole Lampl, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to learn more about this collection of works on paper. .
Highlights of the interview follow below.
A celebration of paper artists:
“In our very first show, ‘Reconstructing Home,’ we had a piece by Sara Farrington where she did a whole recreation of furniture, kind of a little vignette, completely out of paper. And Griffin Carrick, who’s also… in our show ‘Women’s work,’ and she does paper quilling. So it just merged from all these different pieces that I kept including in the exhibit,” Lampl said. “It seemed like it would do such an interesting exhibition to see what you can do with such a humble, everyday medium, and completely transform it into something else.”
“It’s a material that almost everyone probably has at home, whether it’s scrap paper; we have an artist, Anna Grace Burch, who literally made a room out of receipt paper; an artist who made things out of a book that she kind of sculpted, basically,” Lampl said. “It’s an everyday material that you can find in your home, and so it’s a great way for people to realize that art isn’t that far away…. Along with the show, we we run a bunch of workshops and classes on papermaking and origami, which really makes it incredibly accessible because you can learn the techniques as well.
On Charles Clary’s hand-cut paper sculptures:
“My process is very intuitive. I looked at a lot of architectural models when I was in graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and I really fell in love with the meticulous nature of the material,” Clary said. “Every time someone sees my work at the very beginning, they immediately switch to ‘laser cutting’ and I kind of have to shake my head at their disbelief that it’s all hand cut. And on closer inspection, they can still see a few pencil lines here and there.
How Clary brings a visual language of forms from music to paint to paper:
“I was a percussionist and a student of paint-slash-illustration, and something about the visual arts really touched me, but I couldn’t let go of the musical components. So the original work is about this visual translation and this connection to computer-generated sound waves, and how these looked like viral colonies that you would see in a Petri dish, and then how this relates to the land formations of the archipelago,” Clary explained. . “So I really started rolling with that, and they originally started out as action paints.”
He continued, “I would play percussion with household paint and drumsticks on a plastic surface and then let that action play out and then let it dry and then I could peel that paint off the plastic and then use those as stencils for shapes in my paintings. And then those shapes stayed, when all the other processes kind of broke down, and that’s really where I got a lot of my shapes.
Other treasures from the “Paper Cuts” exhibition:
“There’s also a very good piece by Maggie Kerrigan…where she meticulously and, in most people’s eyes, perfectly cut out pages from a book, glued them all together in a long scroll, and then hung on the ceiling in different ways from heights down to the floor. And in the center of that is a pedestal with the book that it was originally from, and it has all these little circles of paper, which were the circles that had been cut out,” Lampl said.
She added, “This is a book about when the US government was trying to assimilate Native American children by removing them from their homes and sending them to boarding schools. Boarding schools were notorious for their pretty atrocious abuse, neglect, and even malnutrition, and it was really about erasing their culture in so many ways…. The book… is called “The Tender Land,” and it’s a fictionalized story that depicts the plight of Native American children who endured life in these schools.
“Paper Cuts” is on view at Reeves House Visual Arts Center in Woodstock until October 23. More information is available at https://woodstockarts.org/events/exhibition-paper-cuts/