Millions of ideas can be born from a single piece of paper. On display through October 23 at the Reeves House Visual Arts Center in Woodstock, Woodstock Arts Gallery’s new exhibit “Paper Cuts” showcases the myriad ways paper can be transformed into a work of art.
Along with acclaimed artist Charles Clary, gallery curator and director of visual arts Nicole Lample joined City Lights host Lois Wrights via Zoom to talk more about this collection of works on paper.
Following are the highlights of the interview below.
Celebration of Paper Artists:
“In our very, very first show, Reconstructing Home, we had a piece by Sarah Farrington where she did a whole re-creation of furniture, sort of a little vignette, entirely out of paper. And Griffin Carrick, who’s also… in our Women’s Work exhibit, and she’s paper quilting. So it just came together from all these different pieces that I kept incorporating into the exhibit,” Lampl said. “It just seemed like it would make such an interesting exhibition to see what you could do with such a humble, everyday environment and completely transform it into something else.”
“It’s a material that probably almost everyone has in their home, whether it’s scrap paper; we have an artist, Anna Grace Birch, who literally made a piece out of a receipt; an artist who made things out of a book that she essentially sculpted,” Lampl said. “It’s an everyday material that you can find in your home, so it’s a great way to let people know that art isn’t so far away… In conjunction with the show, we’re doing a bunch of workshops and classes on paper making and origami, so that really makes it incredibly accessible because then you can actually learn the techniques as well.”
On Charles Clary’s intricate hand-cut paper sculptures:
“My process is very intuitive. I watched a lot of architectural model making when I was in graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and I really kind of fell in love with the precise nature of the material,” Clary said. “Every time someone sees my work at the very beginning, they immediately go to ‘laser cut’ and I have to shake my head in disbelief that it’s all hand cut. And when they look closer, they can still see a few pencil lines here and there.
How Clary brings a visual language of form from music to painting to paper:
“I was a percussionist and a drawing-slash-illustration major, and something about the visual arts really connected to me, but I couldn’t let go of the musical components. So the initial work is all about this visual translation and connection to computer-generated sound waves and how they look like viral colonies that you would see in a petri dish, and then how that relates to the land formations of the archipelago,” Clary explained. “So I really got into it, and they originally started out as action pictures.”
He continued, “I was playing percussion with house paint and drumsticks on a plastic surface and then I let that action play out and then I 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 remained when all the other processes disappeared, and that’s really where I got a lot of my shapes.”
Other treasures from the Paper Cuts exhibit:
“There’s also a really great piece by Maggie Kerrigan… where she has meticulously and to most people’s eyes perfectly cut out pages from a book, taped them all together into one long scroll, and then that’s hung from the ceiling in various kinds of heights going down to the floor. And in the center of that is a pedestal with the book that it was originally from, and there are all these little circles of paper that are the circles that have been punched out,” Lample said.
She added: “This is a book about a time when the US government was trying to assimilate Native American children by taking them from their homes and sending them to boarding schools. The boarding schools were notorious for quite severe abuse, neglect and even malnutrition and it was actually about erasing their culture in many ways… The book… is called The Gentle Land and is a fictional story that illustrates the plight of Native American children who have experienced life in these schools.’
“Paper Cuts” is on view at the Reeves House Visual Arts Center in Woodstock through October 23. More information can be found at https://woodstockarts.org/events/exhibition-paper-cuts/