statement below the pretty pictures
My sculptural work in paper investigates the qualities of paper as an expressive material in its own right—not just as a blank slate upon which marks are made. A certain amount of personal history plays into this inquiry, as my relationship with paper is a complex one.
Paper is the primary material that dominated my early life as a visual artist as a printmaker, paper maker, book artist, collage artist, and maker of marks on paper. At one point, I even reached a stage where my appreciation for good cotton rag paper became insurmountable—I didn’t want to ruin it with my work. It took awhile to get past my regard for the material, and I still find good cotton rag or Asian-style papers to be deliciously sumptuous in their lush fibrousness and color density—and exactly why I turned to paper for my sculptural pursuits. Papers like these demand an approach that emphasizes their inherent qualities rather than being relegated to a supporting role in service of self-aggrandized mark-making.
In addition to being a visual artist, however, I’ve also been a writer since my early teens, and have boxes of journals, poetry, and screenplays tucked away, awaiting some unknown transition. I suspect they’ll outlast my digital archives.
Professionally, I’ve managed to make a career in communications during the digital revolution and the enshrinement of the information economy (which history may yet show to be an oxymoron). One thing that has certainly changed since I poured over a diverse range of zines and alternative magazines as a kid is that information has been liberated from the page. In industry vernacular, content now migrates across containers and must be flexible in form—so where does this leave paper, then? And the book, and photographic film, and other old-fashioned media and forms that the digital revolution has allegedly rendered obsolete?
The trendiness of digital media notwithstanding, the explosion of book and letterpress artists in recent years is testament to the fact that artists will enthusiastically adapt and exploit technologies that industrial progress has left to the wayside. One can only assume that communities will emerge to further explore these technologies despite their presumed obsolescence, as the increasing number of paper-oriented exhibitions show. Even better proof that paper has arrived as a material in its own right was the 2013 release of 500 Paper Objects, selected by Gene McHugh and featuring several works of mine.