Inflected by my recent trip to India and the vibrancy I experienced there, my project embraces both text and pattern. I wanted to respond intuitively to the idiosyncratic qualities of the paper fabricated for me by Hannah King. The cotton and abaca fibers hold gouache paint very differently, and I was challenged to remain nimble in my encounter with each sheet. I was especially fascinated by the transparency of the abaca, and the possibility of painting on each side of the sheet. I love its warm color and how the paint stays on its surface, unlike the more absorbent cotton sheets. The text paintings present a new direction, as earlier text works were contained inside larger projects like painted books. Here the text extends my practice of contemplative, fluid engagement with painting.
Deborah Boardman is a painter and installation artist and member of the Chicago-based artist collaborative ED JR. with Edra Soto, Jeroen Nelemans, and Ryan Richey. Recent projects include Steady As She Goes, a solo exhibition of paintings and site-specific wallpaper at EBERSMOORE gallery in Chicago; Magic Mountain in Bangalore, India; and CoLaboratory with ED JR. at Columbia College in Chicago.
She received a BFA Massachusetts College of Art (1984) and a MFA from Tufts University–School of the Museum of Fine Arts (1987). Deborah is a recipient of grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Indiana Humanities Council. Her work is in the public collection of the Chicago Cultural Center, and her artist books are in collections of the Bibliothecha Alexandrina, Egypt; the Newberry’s Wing Collection; and Harvard University’s Houghton Library, among others.
My contribution to the Material Assumptions exhibition reflects a long-running relationship with paper as a material to work upon and as well as to work through. For years, I’ve been deconstructing the paper I use for a drawing in order to break down the picture plane to build some new kind of structural assemblies. The beautiful paper provided by the Center for Book and Paper Arts became a very special opportunity for the ways in which I work with paper. As I begin a piece, the compositional elements—images, shapes, lines, etc.—are drawn on and then cut away from the paper. These pieces are then activated with pigment or drawing and then repositioned back to their respective places to reclaim the full plane. Using inlay to put everything back together, the cut edge becomes an important part of the form. The edge suggests a kind of certainty that is never fulfilled by the full composition. I then build up the final image with collaged elements; the collage acts as a kind of “repair” for those parts of the composition that require structural support or enhancement. The compositions are always based on the small, quickly made drawings that fill my sketchbooks; the drawings often suggest wonky, non-functional architecture. I’m drawn to inadequately built forms, especially those that fail, are hobbled together, ridiculously embellished, buttressed to keep from falling, or simply can’t live up to their own potential. As a reflection of the human spirit, these structures suggest an inspiring kind of optimism.
Dan Devening is an artist, educator, and curator living in Chicago. He is currently adjunct professor in the Department of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Insitute of Chicago. In the United States his work has been featured at the Roy Boyd Gallery, the Chicago Cultural Center, Terra Museum of American Art, EBERSMOORE gallery, and Julius Caesar in Chicago; Kinkead Contemporary in Los Angeles; and Printed Matter, Inc. in New York. Other projects include international exhibitions at the Kunsterverein Recklinghausen, Museum Kurhaus in Kleve, galerie oqbo, and Renate Schroeder Gallery in Germany; Art Metropole in Toronto; De Appel in Amsterdam; Secession in Vienna; and Galerie des Multiples in Paris. In 2007 he inaugurated, and currently directs, devening projects + editions, a gallery project featuring exhibitions and site-specific installations by emerging and established international artists.
SUSAN GOETHEL CAMPBELL
My installation, Other Cities, is a series of black-and-white relief prints based on aerial views of cities at night and patterns of urbanization. The work stems from my interest in atmospheric phenomena, the experience of flying and the geometry of cities at night as seen from above. Several images for the installation draw from video stills I shot from airplanes. I have arranged the prints in clusters, reflecting how low cloud ceilings reveal and conceal the ground plane below.
Some groups of very dark prints in the installation contain linear elements comprised of hundreds of tiny hand-punched holes. The holes read as patterns of light and reflect how networks of roads and the geometry of dense urban centers glow at night when seen from above. The prints are scattered across the wall at different heights. Many works form contiguous relationships by linking lines, points, and angles to create an overall impression of a sprawling metropolis.
The handmade paper plays an important role in the installation of prints. It is both object and carrier of the illusion of space. Several sheets contain printed gradations of tonal fields and nothing else. These subtle gray values draw from atmospheric phenomena and make use of unique grain patterns found in the woodblock from which the pieces were printed. When interspersed with the perforated prints, the continuous tonal fields provide a strong contrast from the hard geometry of the perforated pieces. When moving through the print installation, these minimal works act like a low cloud ceiling by concealing information. The paper becomes objectified, emphasizing the organic geometry and irregularity of the hand-made paper.
Overall, Other Cities plays with the relationship between the natural and the artificial. The handmade paper as a support contributes to this idea. Imperfections in the paper bring a humanistic element to the macroscopic views of the engineered environment. The organic rectangle of the sheet of paper made from natural fibers underscores, for me, the role the hand can play in shaping one’s environment.
Susan Goethel Campbell has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including The Drawing Center and the International Print Center in New York. Solo exhibitions include the Academy of Merksem, Antwerp, Belgium; Kathryn Markel, New York; and Lemberg Gallery, Ferndale, Michigan. Susan is the recipient of a 2009 Kresge Artist Fellowship; a 2008 printmaking residency at the Flemish Center for Graphic Arts in Kasterlee, Belgium; and the Beisinghoff Printmaking Residency in Diemelstadt-Rhoden, Germany, in 2012. Her work is in private and public collections including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York Public Library, Detroit Institute of Arts, Toledo Museum of Art, and the University of Michigan Special Collections Library. Susan earned a MFA in printmaking from Cranbrook Academy of Art.
By mutating and reprocessing found footage, drawings, photographs, and narratives I create representational imagery that flirts with abstraction, rehabilitating queer, feminist, and personal subject matter through and alongside non-representational forms such as patterning and geometric formalism. Montaged images from the ’60s and ’70s Women’s Movement, re-drawn gay clichés, and references to HIV/AIDS are reframed to evoke new possibilities of framing queer history and memory. Slippery objects and figures cause a tension in the viewing process as the specificity of the subject matter is both acknowledged and subverted. These images and processes create an androgynous aesthetic that replicates my desires for concrete communities devoid of totalizing essentialism.
For Material Assumptions, I was interested in creating a framework for collaboration with the papermakers and curators of the exhibition. Instead of planning a specific work and dictating the materials required for its creation, I wanted to use the creation of the raw materials as an excuse or reason to create a dialog surrounding the traditionally feminized craft of paper. I asked the papermakers to craft materials of their choice and to include their own instructions, intentions and ideas for its use. With this paper acting as a contract or trusting pact, I have taken these instructions in mind as I fabricate each piece, keeping the desires and intentions of my collaborators intact throughout the process.
Daniel Luedtke is an artist, musician, and community organizer working in various mediums such as printmaking, video, sound, and writing. Luedtke got his start as a self-taught printmaker making silk screened posters and record packaging for various music-related projects. He was awarded a Jerome Residency at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in 2008, has exhibited work in solo and group shows in the United States and abroad, and has been published in print anthologies for Princeton Architectural Press and Chronicle Books. In 2011, Luedtke helped co-found Madame, a community art center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is currently an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
I treated the paper provided to me to various states of decay through placing deteriorating metal objects, found through scouring my industrial neighborhood, on top of the paper for a period of time, then printed traces of these objects on the paper to see how the paper would react to the forms of the objects and the rust covering them. Taking some of the work outside of the studio to let the weather assist in the process through sun bleaching, burial, stapling to poles, etc., helped to contrast some of the more controlled pieces worked on within my studio. I attemped to integrate the paper into my neighborhood and leave its traces on the work, giving the pieces a semblance of the found paper I collect through my daily walks on the train tracks adjacent to my studio, whether it’s the cardboard boxes mutated over the course of a harsh winter, or the gig posters bleached by the intense summer sun and stretched by rainstorms. The finished paper is transformed by my interventions and the natural wear and tear of the elements into an honest reflection of my surroundings.
Niall McClelland (b.1980) lives and works in Toronto and went to school in Vancouver. He has recently had solo shows at Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto, and Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco; and has been included in group shows at PPOW, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto. With work rooted in drawing and basic mark making, using folded photocopies, old bed-sheets, fragile newsprint, spray paint, and other basic materials, Niall McClelland makes compelling works that radiate a sense of formal elegance with arte povera-like zeal and (a little bit of) the sneering contrariness born of punk music. He has recently been published in Modern Painters, Canadian Art, and Bad Day magazine.
For the past year, I’ve been making works about the disparity between makeshift weapons and the sophisticated tools of the US military. Recently, I’ve become somewhat paranoid about this project. This past summer, for instance, I made a series of tiny sculptures. Using everyday objects and household materials, I wound together a bunch of tiny fake IEDs. When I searched for images to base the work on, I typed the phrase “improvised explosive devices” into a search engine. I cringed, and thought to myself, “How many times can one google that phrase before Homeland Security comes knocking on your door?” As it turns out, I was not being completely paranoid. When these works were shipped across the border to a show in Canada, the art handlers refused to take them until they were “disassembled.”
After a studio visit a few months ago, concerned patrons suggested that I register with the police before continuing on with this work. Then in the winter, I started on a project about exploded pipe bombs, made from clay. I went to Home Depot to buy a pipe to use for a mold. When I asked for help finding the right size cap, the employee paused, looked at my six-inch lead pipe and asked, “You aren’t making a pipe bomb, are ya, lady?” I was speechless, and ran through the possible answers in my head, one of which, frighteningly, could have been a form of “yes.” I very quickly said no, ran to the register, and made sure to pay in cash.
Though my interest in this comes purely from what I’ve observed in the past few years as a trend of suspicion invading everyday life, I’ve also started to feel some type of odd guilt in making these works. It’s not unlike the feeling I get when I go through security at the airport, where even though I know I have no weapons or anything to hide, I’m still afraid of getting caught.
The project for Material Assumptions addresses my fears of being suspected as a terrorist by, in a way, embracing them. I’ve taken my own clothes and sewn faked weapons into the pockets, then ran them through the printing press to transfer the image onto paper. The result is images that look like x-rays picking up traces of weapons. There is an absurdity to the works that matches the absurdity of my fears of being suspected as a terrorist; the “weapons” are either benign materials like large quantities of matches, or they are in clear view, as through a pair of pantyhose.
There is an implication in this work that we are all, for the instant that we pass through security screenings, viewed as potential terrorists no matter who we may be. They depict only the clothes and the weapons, leaving out the form of the body itself. There is a sense, however, through the folds of the fabrics that someone, or more to the point anyone, could be inside them.
Kate McQuillen is a Chicago-based artist working in print, installation, and sculpture. She is currently serving as the printmaking artist-in-residence at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, and as director of the Chicago Printer’s Guild. McQuillen has attended residencies in Europe and Canada, and is represented in Canada by O’Born Contemporary. Her work examines makeshift weaponry, the destructive power inherent in seemingly mundane objects, and the American public’s relationship to surveillance and security in the wake of the terrorist attacks of the past decade.
ANNICA CUPPETELLI & CRISTOBAL MENDOZA
Our work normally sits in the space between the virtual and the real, but the invitation to participate in Material Assumptions gave us an opportunity to explore the relationship between real and virtual, physical and digital, even further. Our piece relies on a technique that we have been developing for almost two years: an interactive projection of lines is cast on a structure or physical object that acts to create an interference (moiré) pattern, which itself is a manifestation of a different kind of “in-between.” Given that we would be provided with handmade paper as a material for the piece, we thought it would be interesting to involve it in our “traditional” process, as well as to extend this process by applying an additional layer of mechanization and digitization to both the design and the fabrication of the work. On the design side, the pattern that was cut into the paper was created using a simple program that generated rectangles whose widths were altered using a sinusoidal function. Thus, the design is not the outcome of drafting (or even “mousing”); rather, it is the result of a numerical expression. The fabrication was made by using a laser cutter, itself a machine controlled by numerical expressions. We thought it interesting then to have this beautifully imperfect handmade paper be altered via processes that begin in the purely abstract and perfect world of numbers, but have a manifestation in the physical world via digital technologies. Again, given that our work tends to live in the “in-between” of the virtual and the real, transforming the handmade via digital/automated processes felt like yet another “in-between” that our work is now able to occupy.
Annica Cuppetelli (United States) and Cristobal Mendoza (Venezuela) began their artistic collaboration in the fall of 2010. Their work has been exhibited in the Biennial of Video and New Media Art, Chile, 2012; and festivals such as FILE 2011 and FAD 2011 Brazil; and video_dumbo 2011, New York; among others. Cuppetelli obtained her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (Fiber, 2008) and Mendoza at the Rhode Island School of Design (Digital Media, 2007). Mendoza is an assistant professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where they are based.
I’m interested in subverting the historical function of paper as a surface for the word by acknowledging the process of making handmade paper, playing with the medium’s tactility, and turning it into a sculptural object. Historically, paper has been used to organize language and thoughts, sacrificing its own tactile “paper-ness” for the sake of the word. I am interested in the possibility of paper as negative space, as the area in between language, as opposed to that which makes language legible and coherent. For this reason, my project attempts to resurrect the paper-ness of paper by turning it into a three-dimensional object removed from its linguistic utility. What is interesting is that in our age of technology, paper has arguably become even less functional as the printed word is dying. I find the paper object to be particularly awkward and funny in its double lack of utility, and it is precisely through this humor and futility that the object comes closer to embodying its visceral paper-ness.
Zoe Nelson was born in Rhinebeck, New York, in 1983 and currently lives and works in Chicago, Ilinois. She received an MFA from Columbia University in May 2009. Zoe has exhibited at galleries in New York and Chicago including Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center (Chicago), Robert Bills Contemporary (Chicago), the Fisher Landau Center For Art (Long Island City), and NURTUREart (Williamsburg). In September 2012, Zoe is scheduled to have a solo exhibition at Lloyd Dobler Gallery, Chicago. Zoe’s work was selected for the 2011 Midwest edition of New American Paintings, and she received the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship to attend Yale’s Norfolk Summer Program in 2005.
My practice is centered on the interior psychology of the home and the objects of everyday life. My work displays the confinement and accumulation of oppressive social norms, until it visibly hits a breaking point. The objects I sculpt—everyday functional objects—become dysfunctional as I alter them into the destruction and dysfunction they have collected over time. I seek to display hidden confinement through opening up and dissecting objects, showing the hidden psychology of family dysfunction in these spaces. I illuminate social confinement, through the physical combustion of my sculptural objects.
Julie Schenkelberg currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1974. She currently shows at Asya Geisberg Gallery in New York. Julie attended the MFA fine arts program at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2011, and holds a BA in Art History from the College of Wooster, Ohio. Her large-scale sculptural installations are a result of fifteen years of working in scenic theater painting shops around the country.
We often regard the utility of paper in a casual manner, perhaps only noticing it as we reach over to pull a freshly printed sheet out of our laser printer. In this context, paper serves merely as a ground, a substrate, or a platform for ink. We seldom regard the structural potential of paper, but when its interlocking fibers are infused with a vehicle like resin it creates a composite structure with a formidable strength.
The tradition of hand-pulling and pressing paper yields a medium that is particularly well-suited to resin infusion. It literally drinks up the vehicle because of its absorptive properties. The handmade paper provided to me for this project is so pure, white, and structurally profound that I have chosen to use it to create an incarnation of my audio horn speakers.
For years I have been making my horn speakers from recycled newsprint, baking soda, and dryer lint. This construction technique yields surfaces that are ruddy, organic, and wild like an untended garden. By contrast, the handmade paper horns are pristine, stripped down to the lines, and completely naked. Only hand-pulled paper can come close to this organic purity. It is similar to working with porcelain versus terra cotta or stoneware. Extra precaution is required when handling it during construction, but once impregnated it has amazing structural fortitude. In horn speaker construction, this is an absolute requirement for proper sonic performance.
The horn is an acoustic transformer that predates electronics and has existed in nature pre-dating man. Similarly, the process of papermaking is equally ancient. For me, the purity of the paper enhances the beauty and function of the horn’s geometry, creating a uniquely organic symbiosis.
Ian Schneller, owner of Specimen Products, has been building custom guitars, tube amplifiers, and audio horn speakers for twenty-five years. Schneller began creating guitars while completing a master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work soon expanded to include tube amplifiers and horn speakers.
In 2010, the Sonic Arboretum, a collaborative project between Schneller and composer/violinist Andrew Bird, debuted at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The Sonic Arboretum consists of a “forest” of horn speakers and tube amplifiers that Bird uses to create compositions for the exhibit. In 2011, the Sonic Arboretum exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago for a month-long installation.
Schneller is also founder of the Chicago School of Guitar Making, where he teaches guitar and tube amplifier repair and building.
As a paper engineer, my work is rooted in print media, book arts, and commercial design. Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawings and three-dimensional forms. I use my engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture, which has lead to collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan. Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principals; I see their inquiry as basis for artistic inspiration. In my studio I am a collaborator, explorer, and inventor. I begin with a system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over. Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final realization; in this way I come to understanding through curiosity.
Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer, teacher, and collaborator. After graduating from Alfred University in 2002, Matthew spent three years working as a paper engineer in the field of commercial design. There he made movable paper contraptions, from popup books to greeting cards to artist books and kinetic sculptures. In 2006 he received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Currently, he operates a design studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan; teaches Foundations and Paper Engineering at the University of Michigan; and works as a visiting research scholar in the university’s Materials Science and Engineering department.
My work has to do with the tension I find between the common and the unique. Representations of commonplace subject matter are many times tragic or sexual. Often I use animal imagery to represent innocents at the mercy of human ideologies such as providence or the way we behave as stewards of our environment. I also work with abstracted sexual and geometric imagery and patterning concerning nature and the basic elements.
Formally, I explore various simple processes that become a meditation on the content.The intent is that my process takes what is real and specific into the realm of the universal or metaphysical. This includes repeating an image or a motion so that the action of making the piece becomes contemplative. Repeated imagery and patterns are the same, yet different, and they reflect biological events and patterns found in nature. I also use light and shadow so the line between what is “real” and what is perceived about reality becomes ambiguous and the viewer questions the source of the image.
I utilize weaving, paper cutting, sewing, bookmaking, tracing, printing, and copying to meditate on the powerful visual and the emotive impact of the repeated image. And the idea that these mediums are neglected, or considered the “lesser” or secondary arts, and in many cases the feminine arts, is very much of interest to me.
Anna Tsantir works and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After completing her BA in Art History at the University of Minnesota, she began to learn printmaking while living in Wyoming. She then received her MFA from the Memphis College of Art, where she first started to combine print, book, and sculpture. Tsantir has exhibited work nationally and internationally. Highlights include: a solo exhibition at Second Floor Contemporary in Memphis; Artists and the Art of the Book, a traveling exhibition curated by the Experimental Print Institute in Pennsylvania; Labor/Leisure in the Common Room at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis; and Anguish at the MCA Center Gallery in Memphis. Tsantir is the recipient of a Forecast Public Art Jerome Planning Grant in 2011, a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in 2009, and the Jerome Emerging Printmakers Residency at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in 2009. Currently, Tsantir works from her studio in Minneapolis and is one of the founding members of the bookmaking collaborative, Adult Books.