The PAPER/WORD PROJECT
Pamela Dorris DeJong
Jeanne Borofsky, Debra Claffey, Angel Dean, Pamela Dorris DeJong,
Joanne Desmond, Sue Katz, Dona Mara Friedman, Otty Merrill,
Stephanie Roberts-Camello, Lelia Stokes-Weinstein,
Charyl Weissbach, Nancy Whitcomb
STATEMENT OF CONCEPT:
The Word Project was conceived by Sue Katz. Sue wrote: “ it’s about the concept and how the words/numbers are “embedded” or actually in the work – it’s about “aboutness” according to Arthur C. Danto – that the meaning actually be in the work, not just an idea in the title or the statement but in the formal elements and the composition and so on.”
The Paper Project was conceived by Lelia Weinstein. Lelia wrote: “My idea was to stimulate three dimensional work. This could be coming off the wall by attaching paper to a panel or 3 D work that has paper as a strong element. Paper and wax are an interesting combination as the wax stiffens paper and paper lightens the final piece. The ability to shape paper in so many ways seemed like an easy way to encourage new work.”
New England Wax members requested combining the two projects. Interested members were invited to submit images for an on-line exhibit on our blog. What follows is each individual artist’s statement and images about words in their art-making or the use of paper, or both. Artists can be reached at the email addresses they provided in this blog post.
The Blocks and Talking in Circles were created with the Word project in mind. The words are either specific or implied. The constructions start with encaustic monotypes. There is a monotype mounted to the panel, and I add origami boxes folded mostly from more encaustic monotypes. I spend a lot of my time folding, which is a kind of meditation, and then more time constructing and adding stamps, maps, bits of asemic writing and other ephemera to create my own world. I have often felt the way Alexander Calder felt when he said, “I want to make things that are fun to look at, that have no propaganda value whatsoever.”
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I have a small book of haiku, Cherry Blossoms* that was a gift from a long-departed uncle. I have kept it with me through all my moves from studio to studio, childhood home to dorms to apartments, here to my home in the woods of New Hampshire.
In the sudden burst…
of summer rain…
clutching at grasses…
This little delight from Buson conveys in a wonderfully mysterious way the sense of contemplative space I aim for in my paintings of foliage and plant forms. I am fascinated with the fractal aspect of leaf edges—that they convey a defining of space that does not exist and is quite illusory. The shapes these illusions define are beautiful and the fact that I can create a melody and rhythm with their juxtaposition is why I paint. I am forever listening for the frog-silence. *Cherry Blossoms, Japanese Haiku Series Three, The Peter Piper Press, Mount Vernon, NY 1960
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I work in an office and offen use a paper cutter to trim cardboard. One day I looked and saw that I had a whole pile of cardboard strips. One thing lead to another and before I knew it I was making a series.
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PAMELA DORRIS DEJONG
The word and paper project presented challenges for me, not the least of which is that I normally don’t work on paper and almost never use words in my art. I love a chalenge, however, and I embarked on many paintings that included words. I also experimented with paper. Most of my experiments were failures. Paper presents the challenge of buckling, absorbing too much, and being too flimsy. It was a good exercise to challenge myself. I learned things about my materials. Included in this exhibit are two collages using magazine text called Affirmations that are meant to replace looking in the mirror. Healing Braid is about the community it takes to heal one human being and was created using eight paper strips braided to form a rising sculpture ending with pencil drawn hands at the top.
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Tactile experiences and materials speak to my aesthetic sensibilities encouraging. When coming together they tap into memories of my past eliciting visceral responses culminating into physical expressions drawn from a vast expansiveness of materials and inventiveness. Words on a page, threads on material, colored pencils, and watercolors on paper are all reminicent of pleasant interactions between me and my maternal grandparents and great aunt. Such exposure to these materials set the stage for my soulful relationship to art making that depends on the physical gesture and creative implementation of everyday materials interlaced with art materials coming together to illustrate a memory of childhood that may otherwise lay hidden and unrevealed.
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DONA MARA FRIEDMAN
Spurred on by the news that cursive writing was no longer to be taught to school children, I felt compelled to express the subject in my work. What about our signatures, the individual sign that we end our communications with? “Declarations” evolved when I realized that so much of our written history would be unreadable to future generations, in fact they would see an unrecognizable form of communication, like hieroglyphics. This old cursive writing was visually beautiful to me so that the translation for history would lack that visual interest. “Formal Graffiti ” came about as I considered the writings on walls in public places and how they were and are often passionate messages of the times. Graffiti, which is an italian word used in English to describe writings, drawings or paintings scribbled, scratched or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place, became an artistic take off point for a series of pieces. ……..ART is not a thing; it is a WAY. dona mara friedman
Recently I have become active in making and showing work that is PROTEST work. I am not by nature a political person but Trump has pushed me into the direction of RESIST. This past summer I managed a PROTEST show at our gallery here in Amherst and I made three works for it, here submitted. My biggest political and moral concern of all is genocide and the Holocaust as a lesson for us all to learn and to never forget.
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I create art that tells a story. The actual story is my expression of an emotion or life experience; often dealing with childhood, fantasy and abstract interpretation of events in my life. My hope and intent is to draw in the viewer and have them relate by identifying the subject, place or emotion. In the process of creating a piece, I fall into the story and then step back and become the viewer rather than the maker. I love simplicity and often seem to be fighting against “adding too much”. I love the kind of simplicity that isn’t simple at all, but is the result of removing what is unnecessary and then being brave enough to believe and trust that the message will be felt and appreciated.
Why do I make art? ….to quote my favorite writer, Elizabeth Gilbert from her book “Big Magic”…”Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet. It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. If I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”
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STEPHANIE ROBERTS CAMELLO
Paper and Words are two prime components in the work I have been developing for the last 3 years. The words, layered with encaustic wax, are uncovered, exposed in fragments, representing the past or personal obstacles. Thoughts that linger over time and become heavy. Some are old family letters from the depression, a time that had to be endured. Peeling away what has been buried. To be looked at anew with fresh eyes. Released.
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LELIA STOKES WEINSTEIN
My process is a combination of working on an idea that I want to express or just playing with materials, allowing my subconscious to make the decisions. The later is fun because suddenly I ‘awaken’ from a sort of trance or meditation, a place of no thought, to find something pleasing has been created. As a working landscape designer the three dimensional capability of wax calls to me. In these works the ridgidity wax imposes on paper and cloth is sculptural. My work often incorporates visual movement. The flow of pigment, the rustle of leaves and the blur between land, water and air call to me. Keeping still is not something I do well so I enjoy creating art that suggests motion, from repurposed shoes to a sinuous line.
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These paintings are inspired by Lawrence Weissbach’s song, Starless Sky, appearing on his album “Pharaoh’s and Titans”. This haunting melody and lyrics reflect one’s hopes and struggles within everyday life. Resistance to change is a repeated theme throughout the piece, “The angel asked me if I enjoyed being alive, Hoping to enlighten me to a world I cannot describe, But I doubt I’ll change my ways, and its how I’ve survived, I’m still a fallen angel lost beneath a starless sky.” Lawrence is truly a poet, his lyrics are subtle, yet penetrating, and deeply moving. His gentle repetition of words moved me in such a way that I reduced the color palette to quietly and powerfully echo them. My use of circles represents stars and infinity within endless repetition throughout the sky. I hope my visual interpretation of his work sparks interest in others to explore his song. It can be heard on SoundCloud.
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Word and Image, image is beyond word In an abstract printed on PubMed, a pediatric study on word acquisition found that nouns dominate verbs in early word meaning. “At the beginning of word learning imageability might be a driving factor.” Of course! I wanted to have the cutouts on this piece be a long chain coming from the spine of the book, falling to the floor and made into a huge spiral jetty. Unfortunately I don’t have the space to present and photograph that way. The book I cannibalized came from a school that closed, where I had taught for eight years. The unity of color in the illustrations reminds me that there is a unity, a look, that encapsulates any given time in history.
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