paper stories

“Playfulness is one of the signs scientists look for when trying to determine the health of a herd of animals. The healthier the animals and the safer the herd, the more they play. The same is true of the human herd. Especially herds of children. As long as the kids are healthy and feeling safe, left to their own resources, play is the thing they do. “
– Bernie DeKoven, http://www.deepfun.com/

“Without playing with fantasy, no creative work has yet come into being.” – Carl Jung

This exhibition of 3D-popup collages was conceived from a rather surprising source – a theatrical play. After watching a rather depressing play about the life of Joseph Cornell, I was faced with some rather depressing understandings about my own work to date, namely, that most of it was, well, depressing. Much of it seemed to be trying to make a point, and those points were all very serious ones. Twenty years of making art that was serious led me to question why I was even doing this at all.

This led me to a week-long internet search for other collage/assemblage artists, including Cornell, to see if anyone else had any wisdom on this subject, and that was how I came across a link to Dale Copeland, an assemblage artist from New Zealand. Her site had a link to a page for something called the 9th International Collage Exchange. The basic premise of the exchange is this: make 13 collages, about so-big by so-big, and send them to New Zealand, to be exhibited and exchanged with the other artists in the show. My largest challenge was, as a sculptor, how do I make a 3D collage that would be light and shippable? Which led me to investigate the art of paper engineering, otherwise known as pop-ups.

Pop-ups have long been primarily the dominion of children’s books, and have largely been considered commercial art because of this association. The imagination of childhood and the act of creating from materials at hand are two of the primary reasons for my desire for a career as an artist. So I have specifically tried not to make any serious points with this work, instead concentrating on working with images that would have fascinated me as a child. I had a lot of fun making this work. My hope is that the audience has as much fun viewing it.

this exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

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