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June 19, 2008 to August 1, 2008


was a survey of contemporary work by east coast artists who use paper not merely as a support for paint or pencil, but as a sculptural medium in its own right. The participating artists all push the boundaries of this highly flexible and readily available material, and prove that paper can be both fragile and resilient. The eight artists selected seize upon the exceptional formal variety that can be achieved with a material we take for granted everyday.

In , an array of techniques and processes are employed to both reference its material properties while questioning the traditional presuppositions of its use. Many play with the ideas associated with paper, such as its use for personal and official communication, such has Dawn Gavin’s use of United States maps as the foundation for her incised pieces or Donna Ruff’s transgressive technique of burning texts, referencing censorship and protest. Other artists look to other uses of paper, such as the traditional art of paper folding in the improvisational installations of Sarah Julig, which not only draw upon the structure and geometry of origami, but also reference the looseness and speed of a child’s craft project. In works that reflect their traditional uses, there is the concept of paper in its service as a carrier of information and language, promoting the development of personal codes and vocabularies; as a useful material for protection and enclosure; or as a reference to traditional associations with both simple and complex craft based processes. For these artists, the choice as a material is an engagement with its already established associations.

Then there is the physical nature of paper itself, and the exploration of its structure, its tensile strength and flexibility. As paper itself has been elevated to a medium of artistic expression, so has the manipulation of paper, whether handmade, manufactured or found. Treating paper as three-dimensional form, many of the artists work either by incising an existing material such as the ephemeral cut pieces by Jin Lee, Hunter Stabler, and Nami Yamamoto; or through a process of building forms through accumulation, seen in the work of Leslie Mutchler, and Natasha Bowdoin.

It is the viewer’s emotional, intellectual and physical experiences with paper that shape our relationship with the material. Thus once one acknowledges their status as paper objects, they are viewed in a completely different context to work created in any other media. The artists presented in all demonstrate a new commitment to creating objects out of this medium and expanding the boundaries from which we understand the properties of paper, thus increasingly defining themselves and their craft by the material they use.

Stemming from an interest of Native American mythology, Natasha Bowdoin’s cut paper installations celebrate the powerful forces of nature and the ways in which fables and legends celebrate the concept of transformation. Her sculptures reflect a form of resistance, in both subject matter and technique, to the forces of technology. Built through layers of intricately cut strips of paper, Bowdoin references animals and nature by combining the physical qualities of multiple and paradoxical creatures and objects into fantastical new forms.

Bowdoin received an M.F.A. from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include: Panta Rei, Extraspazio, Rome, Italy (2008); Myths and Fables, Julie Chae Gallery, Boston, MA (2008); and Signs, Temple Gallery, Rome, Italy. Group exhibitions include: 2007 Joan Mitchell MFA Grant Recipient Show, The Cue Art Foundation, New York, NY (2008); The Fluid Field: Abstraction and Reference, Tyler Gallery, Elkins Park, PA (2007); VOXXOXO, Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); MFA Biennial, Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE (2007); Seven in a Box, Temple Gallery, Rome, Italy (2006); Ignite Annual, Artworks Gallery, Trenton, NJ (2006); Summer Exhibition, Dead Cat Gallery, Providence (2006); and Works on Paper, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA. In 2007 Bowdoin received the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and has also received grants from Tyler School of Art and Brandeis University.

Working with visual documents such as maps and passports, Dawn Gavin dissects their content, thus altering their structure and meaning into a new personal narrative. Questioning the fixed meanings of such tools and their metonymic relationship to the objects in which they represent, Gavin suggests alternative ways in which to construct the purpose and content of the things that give meaning and structure to daily life. Gavin states, “Despite apparent clear purpose and directed usage, documents such as maps and passports embody ulterior structures of power and interrelationships within which we are all equally bound. This material is then literally dislocated, both spatially and temporally, in such a way as to subvert its original modus and offer alternate interpretations. What is removed in the process is ultimately as present as what is perceived in the finished work.”

Gavin received a M.F.A. in Fine Art/Public Art and a M.S. in Electronic Imaging from the Jordonstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, Scotland. Recent exhibitions include Transmogrification, The University of Miami Project Space, Miami, FL (2007); You Are Here: Maps Redefined by Contemporary Mid-Atlantic Artists, Ellipse Art Center, Arlington, VA (2007); Obsessive Aesthetics, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD (2007); Land Adapted: Contemporary Interpretations on the Landscape, Chaney Gallery, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD (2007); Real Beauty, Makan, Amman, Jordon, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI and Kasser Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY (2007); Dwell Bond Connect, Gallery Imperto, Baltimore, MD (2006); +es+ pa++erns, Pinkard Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD (2006); Drawing Conclusions: An Inquiry, Biggin Inquiry Gallery, Auburn University, Auburn, AL (2006); and Masters Expo, Kangaroo Self-Storage, Dundee, Scotland.

Sarah Julig (Brooklyn, NY)
The works by Sarah Julig included in are an extension of a previous body of work consisting of  cut and folded paper used to build complex environments that explore the connections between the natural and the human-made world. This series adds a transformative element to her previous works by their ability to expand and collapse, taking on the properties of fluid or the movements of sea creatures such as the jellyfish. As Julig states about her influences, ”Nature, fractal geometry, mysticism, architecture, traditional paper crafts, and science fiction…my interest lies in combining things that are in opposition.” The resulting architectural forms both confirm and negate their structure as they flow from floor to ceiling.

Julig received a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK and also studied at the University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland and the Buckminster Fuller Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Recent exhibitions include: Happily Ever After, Canco Lofts, Jersey City, NJ (2007); Locally Localized Gravity/Plausible Arts Worlds, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (2007); La Nina, Art/Basel, Miami, FL (2006); Crystalline Cliff Dwellings, Art in Odd Places, Lower East Side, New York, NY (2006); Growing Up In Public, Repetti Gallery, Long Island City, NY (2006); Structures and Inhabitants, Xanadu Gallery/Chess Studio, New York, NY (2006); Molecular Resistance, Ides of March 5th Biennial, ABC No Rio, New York, NY (2006); A Friend in Need, Gallery 128, New York, NY (2005); and Time Tornado, Elsewhere Artists Collaborative, Greensboro, NC (2005). In 2006 Julig received the Swing Space Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY, and was the 2005 Artist in Residence at the Elsewhere Artists Collaborative, Greensboro, NC.

Jin Lee’s elegant installations emphasize the ephemeral nature of paper, alluding to the vulnerability of the material itself. Lee cuts the paper leaving only hand-drawn lines, thereby negating the background of the original surface. When installed, layers of lines are placed in a three dimensional arrangement from floor to ceiling, allowing what was once two dimensional to expand into a sculptural form. Her inspiration lies in nature itself, stating “My work is an act on (see)ding. I make countless tiny dots and lines in repetition. . . it sprouts and becomes various kinds of lines and forms. And it gives birth to another dot, which is full of energy—becoming, growing, moving, mutating, and multiplying.”

Jin Lee received an M.F.A. from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY and a B.F.A. from Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. Recent solo exhibitions include: White Landscape: Drawings by Jin Lee, Queens College Art Center, New York, NY (2008); Stages of life, A Taste of Art Gallery, New York, NY (2002); Jin Lee, Stueben West Gallery, New York, NY (2001); and Growing Series, Gallery Hyundai—Window Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2000). Selected group exhibitions include: Reprised Reality, Gallery Korea, New York, NY (2007); The Affordable Art Fair New York City, A Taste of Art Gallery, The Metropolitan Pavilion, New York, NY (2006); 8 Korean Emerging Artists, FGS Gallery, Englewook, NJ (2005); Repeating Spaces, The Montclair University Art Gallery, Montclair, NJ (2005); No End but Addition, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA (2005); Luminous Recurrence, Shore Institute of Contemporary Art, Log Branch, NJ (2004); and Drawing Conclusions, Islip Museum of Art, Islip, NY. Jin Lee has had residences at Chashama, New York, NY (2006), and LMCC, New York, NY (2005), and received a VSC Grant from the Vermont Studio Center (2005).

Leslie Mutchler’s installation is based on paper pulping newsprint and recasting the forms as building blocks for a larger scale sculptural form. Loosely based on the toy design of Charles Eames House of Cards (1952),each card contains slots in which to create a monumental form. The installations result from Mutchler’s interest in collecting everyday items, such a newspaper, and reorganizing and stacking individual elements into human-scale architectural pieces. As Mutchler states, “It is the repetitive nature of this order and the beauty that emanates from simplified and functional forms that engages me.”

Leslie Mutchler received a M.F.A. from Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and a B.F.A. from Kent State University, Kent OH. Recent solo exhibitions include Repurpose, Tilt Gallery and Project Space, Portland, OR (2007); Studies in Veneer and Plastic, Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Studies in Organized Living, The Painted Bride Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2006); Cut, Fold, Stack, Repeat, Beverly Gallery, St. Louis, MO (2006); Shaping Storage, Exit Gallery, Kent, OH (2006); Cabinet InFlux, Spareroom, Baltimore, MD (2006); Re-Collection, Temple Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2004); Verbose, Icehouse Gallery, Akron, OH (2004); and Stuff, Kent State University Sculpture Gallery, Kent, OH (2002). Selected recent group exhibitions include: Commodity, Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO (2008); Papercuts, Falling Cow Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Recent Work: Leslie Mutchler and Jason Urban, Snowflake Gallery, St. Louis, MO (2007); Showroom, The Crane Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Printstallation and Prainting, The Green Door Gallery, Kansas City, MO (2007); Emergent Behavior, Martin Art Gallery of the Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg, PA (2007); Experimental Kitten, Vergette Gallery, Carbondale, IL (2006); Intimate and Epic, Lurie Garden, Millenium Park, IL (2006); and Selections from the Contemporary’s Flat Files, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO. Mutchler is a lecturer at Forest Park Community College, St. Louis, MO and is the visiting assistant professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Donna Ruff creates elegant lace like patterns through the process of burning paper or pages of text from books. Referencing the history of burning subversive texts, Ruff suggests that this deductive act is actually one of veneration because the precision and intricacy of the burnt form.  Ruff states, “Burning the paper in a kind of scarification process feels ritualistic as well as it feels transgressive, but it is done with such care and exactitude that it feels like an act of affection.”

Donna Ruff received a M.F.A. from Rutgers University and a M.A. from Florida State University.  Ruff has had solo exhibitions at: Piedmont College, Charlottesville, VA (2007); ArtSPACE New Haven Project Room (2005); Next Gallery, New York, NY (2005); Norwalk Community College Gallery (2004); NJ Printmaking Council (2002); PS122, New York, NY (2001); Rutgers University, Brunswick, NJ (2000); and Barry University, Miami, FL (1997). Selected recent exhibitions include: Process, Bendheim Gallery, Greenwich, CT (2007); Disaster! One Year After, Zikha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (2006); Feedback: Artist to Artist, German Consulate, New York, NY (2006); TEXTure, ALL Gallery, New Haven, CT (2006); 2006 Invitational, John Slade Ely House, New Haven, CT (2006); Making Your Mark, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn, NY (2006); Word of Mouth, Rhys Gallery, Boston, MA (2005); (re)creation, Guilford Art Center, Guildford, CT (2005); Baker’s Dozen, Ceres Gallery, New York, NY (2005); Women, Words, and Images, Mill Pond Gallery, St. James, NY (2005); Project Diversity, Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2005); Babes, Holland Tunnel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2005); Qville, Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY (2004); The Print Show, Gallery 402, New York, NY (2004); 4th International Graphic Triennial, Prague, Czech Republic (2004); National Print Exhibition, Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, NJ (2004); and Generations 04, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY (2004). Ruff has had residences at the Tammarind Institute, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Vermont Studio Center, and Santa Fe Art Institute.

With an interest in pattern and lattice work, Hunter Stabler’s intricate cutout forms contain both discernable as well as abstract images. Without narrative or specific meaning, Stabler desires for his work to be purely a “retinal experience” that parallels the flat nature of the forms that he develops. Stabler cites a plethora sources for his work such as “synaesthesia, baroque architecture and design, ancient eastern pattern-oriented design (rugs, tapestries, lattices, tile), cymatics, symmetry, self-similar plant growth, interference patterns, vibrations, vortexes, war, war-machines, mysticism, divine and religious art, and symbols and themes of good and evil.”

Stabler received a M.F.A. in Painting at University of Pennsylvania and a B.F.A. in Painting at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Recent solo and two person exhibitions include: Thanks to Mom and Dad, Pageant Soloveev, Philadelphia, PA (2008); Recent Works by Hunter Stabler, Dougherty's, Baltimore, MD (2004); Everything is Light Pour, Pageant Soloveev, Philadelphia, PA (2006); and Revealing the Infinite Science of God, Shinola Gallery, Baltimore, MD (2005). Group Exhibitions include: Nightingale Gallery, Watermill, NY (2008); Souvenir Show, Gift Shop Project Space, Chicago, IL (2008); Preternatural Selection, Gallery 51, North Adams, MA (2008) Danger Danger Premiere, Danger Danger Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2008); Helter Swelter, Nightingale Gallery, Watermill, NY (2007); Naked Paper, Tower Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Invitational Summer Exhibition, Schuylkill Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); High Contrast, Maze Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Young Painters Competition, Hiestand Gallery, OH (2007);  University of Pennsylvania, MFA Thesis Show, The Ice Box Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2006); Fall Vernissage, Dinaburg Arts, New York, NY (2005); Show Me Where the Devil Bit You, Tower Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2005). Stabler was invited to the Philagrafika 2008 Invitational Print Portfolio in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop, and has received fellowships from Royal College of London and Yale, Norfolk School for the Arts.

Nami Yamamoto’s most recent project radiant flux stems from the artists interest in the properties of light and the ability to capture light within the object itself. Using paper painted with light sensitive material, Yamamoto cuts forms resembling several different kinds of plants and leaves and organizes them as if in a scientific horticultural display. Yamamoto states “Borrowing from the process that enables plants to survive, this light collector synthesizes light with minerals to store and absorb light. Only in the absence of light does the evidence of this former light become apparent and visible, illuminating the space with the glow of its pale memory.”

Yamamoto received a M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute, College of Art and a B.F.A. from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts, Aichi, Japan. Solo exhibitions include: Fleisher Challenge Exhibition, Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA (2007); water field, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE (2006); Stages, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA (2006); White Noise, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA (2005); Primordial Soup, Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, PA and at SpaceLab, Cleveland, Ohio (2005); tidal, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA (2004); and MFA Thesis Exhibition, Fox Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, PA (2001). Selected recent group exhibitions include: Facing East/Facing West, Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA (2008); 2000 Years of Sculpture, Fleisher Ollman, Philadelphia, PA (2008); Light, Liao Collection, Philadelphia, PA (2007); MicroBIOPHILIA, Hicks Art Center, Buck County Community College, Newtown, PA (2007); MORGELLONS, Fleisher Ollman, Philadelphia (2006); O, Kresge Foundation, Romapo University, Mahwah, NJ (2006); Parts to the Whole, Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2006); Summer Dialogue, Broadway Gallery, New York, NY (2004); and intersections, Chela, Baltimore, MD (2004). Yamamoto has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (2005 and 2008), Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts (2005); Joan Mitchel Foundation MFA Grant Award (2001); and has residences at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA (2007), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE (2003), and the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (1998). She is the Project coordinator/Master printer at The Fabric Workshop and Museum and teaches at Philadelphia University.

Tags: installation, sculpture, works on paper