Depth of Surface
Paper a ubiquitous substance is often taken for granted but ask someone how it is made and most individuals only have a vague idea. For the past few years I have been researching and creating art works with and of handmade paper. I even traveled to Japan in order to learn the art of Japanese papermaking.
My investigation of traditional Japanese papermaking and the impeccable skill in which it is executed exposed me to a grammar of care, expertise, and perfection. The repetition of an activity until it is second nature, but never assumed until action is expected yet novel each time: a meditation, a prayer and a practice all at once.
This show contains pieces that utilize paper in two different ways. The first way is through a group of works where the imagery and handmade papers are created at the same time. These works were produced at Dieu Donne ́ Paper Mill in New York City where different colored pulps are meshed together to create both image and structure. The second way of working pushes the paper to become structural. This is manifested in installations that utilize Washi or Japanese paper by printing on each sheet then folding and dying and finally forming the sheets into their own surface. All the works utilize patterned imagery as a grammar, a dialect, a language of desire.
The handmade paper works employ images that become part of the paper not applied imagery like ink on paper but by utilizing colored paper pulp I can paint or wash away the pulp creating images that are seamless, intrinsic to the structure of the paper. “Natural texture and abstract texture, i.e. ornament, have a depth, not of space but of surface,” writes Lars Spuybrook, in his book The Sympathy of Things. He argues for ornament and structure becoming one. I see that happening with the handmade paper because the surface is the structure. The patterns are not just applied but the structure as well.
The installation pieces are about simplicity and subtlety through multiplicity. Examining the concept of repetition as an ideal for refinement. The action of the dye soaking and being absorbed by the paper is different every time. There is a bit of chance that takes place but with each new piece of paper the process is more controlled more refined. The concept of saturation refers to how exposure to another culture can infiltrate and seep into ones consciousness, that often it can be subtle yet truly effective— Like dye permeating a surface.