Paper Lover in the Field: A Trip to the Ohio Craft Museum

Among the pleasures of blogging for On Paper is the excuse to venture out and explore where and how paper and art collide. In October I attended the Ohio Craft Museum’s CraftView Evening with paper artist Leah Wong whose work was part of the fantastic East & West exhibit. Though that has ended, you can find two installations by Wong at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center. Her work is part of a group show called Cut and Torn--Paperscape. The show runs until December 28th. Go, go, go!

The event began with a talk by Wong in which she described her general approach to creating three dimensional cut paper sculptures like her site-specific Be Present. For it, Wong pre-cut her paper, which she noted was chosen in warmer and cooler shades of white to create depth. For color, she used black and orange ink in varying intensity. Here you can see Wong’s assemblage of the piece which is pictured completed just below:

Be Present, The Ohio Craft Museum

Among the more abstract pieces of paper, familiar shapes emerge (but not too familiar). Here and there are creatures reminiscent of hedgehogs, roosters and skunks. Wong's animals are magical approximations, lovely in their balance of strangeness and familiarity:

 Detail image of Wong's Beach, a separate installation, taken from her website.

The second portion of the night was spent learning about, and attempting, the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting from which Wong's art at least partially descends; centuries of Chinese paper cutters have cut the most delicate images into vibrant red paper.

Patterns are passed from cutter to cutter, but each artist is free to adapt it, thus creating a sort of artistic collaboration or lineage; one cutter may prefer short spiky whiskers on catfish, while another may prefer them long and elegant.


Though it is unlikely the two pieces above were made in direct response to one another, it is a glimpse at the tremendous variety and detail paper cutters achieve.

For our own work, Wong encouraged us to draw and cut without judgment of our own abilities, to approach the project like six year olds: the goal was not realism. She didn't have to tell me twice.

 It's the elusive fox-pig! 
The shape removed from the first animal's belly becomes a bird. My third creature is one third deer, one third tree, and one third giraffe.

These cuts are easily done with an X-acto knife, cutting board and cover stock. Wouldn't you know On Paper carries Green Paper Company paper, both text and cover weight, in rich colors like Redwood and Chestnut and lovely pastels like Magnolia and Spearmint. These papers contain least 30% post consumer recycled waste and many are 100%. What a wonderfully green product for your foray into paper cutting.

The best advice Wong gave during our time was to use the entire sheet of paper (to not cut ourselves into a corner, so to speak) and to embrace whatever strange shapes we produced. I am pretty fond of that little Reedeeraffe.

-Posted by Beth

Next up: The Pièce de Résistance--Your Wedding Invitations

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