Chasing Paper

Recently, the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts provided me with inspiration for a new “paper”-themed piece.  Here’s what I found on the festival’s website:

“The theme for this year’s special exhibit is Chasing Paper—a celebration of the pursuit of artistic expression and creativity through the properties of paper. At once familiar and mysterious, simple and complex, fragile and strong, paper is made and manipulated into surprising and delightful creations in the chase to stretch the boundaries of paper as an art form.”

In response to this year’s theme, I decided to create a mixed media painting on a wooden panel that consciously explores paper’s creative potential.  Paper is truly amazing; it can be collaged and manipulated into so many forms, including a variety of intriguing beads (my personal favorite).  Here is a photo of the resulting piece which I’ve called “Potentialities of Paper: Tribute to Adelaide”:

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Potentialities of Paper: Tribute to Adelaide

The centerpiece of this mixed media work is a small quilled fan from the 1950s—its maker was a woman named Adelaide Coleman who carefully copied a 17th century quilling design and proudly mounted it on red velvet.  I discovered this after I purchased it on Etsy, as there was an inscription on the back of the frame.  Somehow, I was touched by Adelaide’s handwriting, which reminded me of my grandmother’s.  I was able to incorporate her paper fan as a focal point in this tribute to the handiwork done by women of my grandmother’s generation, who rarely perceived themselves as “artists” and yet derived pleasure from beautifying their homes through their creative efforts.

The small origami crane, an old earring of my mother’s from the 1980s, lends the central peacock-like bird figure the resonance of multiple generations.  I used vintage paper doilies from the 1960s to enhance the overall design, which is an eclectic combination of a Chinese cloud collar pattern from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and a contemporary embroidered suzani from Uzbekistan.  The light blue rolled paper beads, which create an Art Deco-inspired frame around the quilled fan, are from a contemporary fair trade necklace made in Uganda, while the gilded papier-mâché beads are from my vintage jewelry collection.  Thus, the versatility of paper as an art form is also emphasized in this painting.

As part of this year’s “Chasing Paper” exhibit, I will be doing a demonstration in the Lakewood Center’s special exhibit space on Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m.—if you live locally or are visiting Portland that weekend, please stop by and say hello.  The entire Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts runs from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26.

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