For years Yulia Brodskaya (previously) has gravitated toward light backdrops for her densely quilled paper portraits. “It rarely even crossed my mind that I should choose any colour other than white. White allows all wonderful colour reflections and blended inter-reflections from paper strips to be visible and showcased at their fullest potential,” she tells Colossal.
In recent months, though, the United Kingdom-based artist has started to utilize dark canvases, which poses new challenges as some of her standard techniques, like composing portraits with thin strips, don’t translate well. “Black color is dense, dominating, it absorbs all reflections and most of the shadows; only top edges of paper strips are left to see,” she says.
Instead, Brodskaya has focused on thicker rolls and larger bends to create necessary contrast. Many of the vibrant portraits feature larger, three-dimensional swaths similar to brushstrokes, a nod to the artist’s method of “painting with paper,” that help to highlight distinct features. “I chose to leave plenty of empty dark space and blend in colored parts to gradually transition them into the black nothingness, so the background plays a crucial role in these new artworks,” she says.
To see Brodskaya’s paper-based works in progress, check out the video below and follow her on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Share this story
Myriad Layers of Intricately Cut Paper Construct Architectural Sculptures by Artist Michael Velliquette
Despite being built with a pliable, degradable material, Michael Velliquette’s paper sculptures exude strength and durability. Densley layered walls fortify the borders of his architectural works, and three-dimensional elements evoke mechanical gadgets like gears and other hardware. The incredibly intricate structures also have more delicate features, like the tiny dots and curved flourishes decorating the small pieces.
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the artist hand-cuts each shape with straight-edge scissors or an Exacto knife, utilizing templates, mechanical punches, rulers, and compasses. Requiring between 300 and 500 hours to complete, each monochromatic sculpture begins at the center, and Velliquette expands outward. He shares with Colossal that he “aspire(s) for balance and symmetry in the overall design, but they are not perfectly symmetrical.” Acid-free PVA glue and hot adhesives hold the layers together.
Velliquette first started utilizing the accessible material as a way to model larger installations before it quickly became central to his practice. “Paper comes in endless forms. It can be used in multiple dimensions. It is easy to handle and manipulate, and it is available anywhere. It is inherently ephemeral, but given the right conditions, it can last for centuries,” he says.
The work I am now creating is non-pictorial, non-objective, and non-representational in nature. The perspective of these pieces is left intentionally ambiguous: they can be read hung on the wall like bas-relief sculptures or mounted horizontally like architectural studies. There are new issues around engineering and construction that I have had to tackle as my work has evolved in this direction. The broad aim of this investigation is to use three-dimensional structure and intricate detailing to push the boundaries of paper art literally into a new dimension.
The artist’s work will be on view at David Shelton Gallery in Houston this fall, and he is a 2021 resident at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Until then, follow Velliquette on Instagram for glimpses into his process and studio and to follow his upcoming projects. (via Dovetail)
Share this story
In 2012, Bristol-based artist Diana Beltrán Herrera (previously) began sculpting impeccably layered paper birds and other wildlife as a way to record her surroundings. Her lifelike pieces continuously have captured nature’s finely detailed and minuscule elements, like the fibrous texture of feathers and the veins running through leaves.
Today, the artist has expanded the practice to include exotic species and environments she’s never seen up close, developing her paper techniques to express the more nuanced details of the shapes and textures she studies in biology books. Now focusing on the structural elements of fungi, fruit, and florals, Beltrán Herrera shares with Colossal:
Paper as a medium for documentation allows me to register and create notions and ideas of subjects that I have not experienced in real life but that I can experience when a sculpture is completed. I like this approach because it is not harmful, and through my work, I can show and tell my viewers about the things I have been learning, of the importance of nature just by researching and making it myself.
Much of her work centers on conservation efforts and environmental justice. For example, a recent commission by Greenpeace UK bolstered the organization’s Plastic Free Rivers campaign. ” I am constantly looking for more subjects that are relevant to the times we are living in, so that through my work I can communicate important information that can educate or just make things more visible. The approach is very (graphic) and visual, which helps to deliver a message,” she says.
Beltrán Herrera’s upcoming projects include a commission for a coral sculpture, in addition to plans to launch a studio with her brother by the end of 2020. Her hope is to merge graphic and digital design with her paper pieces, potentially adding in animation, as well. Ultimately, her goal is to dive into larger projects. “I don’t see my work as something I want to know how to make and stay safe, but as a challenge, that will always allow me to wonder how to execute and create things that were never made with paper,” she says.
Share this story
Hundreds of Intricately Cut Layers Compose Impeccably Detailed Wildlife Sculptures by Patrick Cabral
Manila-based artist Patrick Cabral (previously) layers paper incised with decorative motifs and lacy patterns into dazzling sculptural portraits of wildlife. Ribbed tentacles with alternating gold and white dangle from an octopus, while elegant pieces comprise a rhinoceros’s exterior. Each multi-layered work contains hundreds of individual paper pieces that are entirely hand-cut.
The crowned lion (shown below) spans more than five feet and is one of Cabral’s largest projects to date. “Working on a piece like this is a paradox. It’s a lot of work that usually spans around 3 months. I love the whole process of cutting because it’s sort of meditative for me,” he writes on Instagram. “It’s opposite though once I started assembling the pieces together because it becomes really stressful (especially) on pieces as big as this.”
Share this story
A measure of well-written fiction is its ability to provoke clear images in the minds of its readers. For Bethany Bickley, though, the joy of envisioning protagonists and scenery has a more literal element. The Savannah-based artist utilizes pages torn from classics, magazines, and contemporary works to fashion distinctive paper sculptures of clenched fists, a lounging reader, and a trio of masks. Each figurative work serves as a tangible representation of otherwise imagined visuals.
Among her bookish sculptures are the iconic pear tree from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, a seated Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and an amalgam of weapons and detective objects to symbolize the thriller genre. In a statement, Bickley said she merges narrative and imagery “to tell a story with impact and purpose. If there are no visuals, I create them.”
Share this story
For a hypochondriac, any sense of pain or discomfort can be a point of fixation, something specifically known as somatic symptom disorder. This type of obsession inspired paper artist Julie Wilkinson to create a project that would not only distract her from this consuming condition but also bring awareness to an often misunderstood disorder. Her project is aptly titled Manifestation.
Wilkinson told Fubiz that she’s “been hypochondriac for as long as I can remember, and I have always had a fascination with medicine and the psychology related to certain conditions. This project was a way of visualizing the endless cycle that hypochondriacs often find themselves in, where every feeling is magnified, amplified, and where one little ache can turn into multiple symptoms—real or imagined—which take up our thoughts entirely.”
These layered illustrations of anatomical parts in a mandala motif were cut by Wilkinson with none other than a scalpel. The result is a visual expression of somatic symptom disorder—a dizzying array of magnified and multiplied sensations across various interconnected body parts and systems. The mandala is befitting of the meditative and healing nature of the project.
Wilkinson and Joyanne Horscroft make up the transatlantic creative duo behind Makerie Studio. While Wilkinson lives in New York, Horscroft is based in London. Not only are they master paper artists but they’re also set designers, who create imaginative and exquisitely detailed paper sculptures for window displays, events, advertising, and special artistic commissions. They’ve gained the attention of Google, Gucci, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few. Wilkinson and Horscroft have developed their own unique paper techniques and are inspired by nature, steampunk mechanicals, and whimsical worlds.
Follow Makerie Studio’s magnificent paper creations and installations on Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.