What is ascetically pleasing to my eye is how I construct my sculptures. The papier-maché layering technique after it dries has an unfinished like appearance, partly because of the unpredictable nature of the buckling of the paper. For me this an organic process that presents design challenges. In some of my works I use mixed media to achieve an end result. Often I work through the process of building the forms in a rather spontaneous way, allowing the process itself to lead me. A hidden truth about the object is revealed. An Origami Server is a vessel that has no practical function, yet there is an illusion that it could be part of a decorative arts collection in a museum’s gallery. Its place in a historical sense is a mirage. This absence of belonging shows up repeatedly in my work. The use of decoupage, to resolve a design issue is another component to my process.
In the example of the Babushka wall hanging, one can interpret the meaning behind the sculpture as a figure of a women fleeing from Russia during political unrest. The Russian letters on her dress, in English means ‘greetings to the fighters against fascism”. We can only see her babushka, as her face is looking towards the wall. Once again the absence of belonging can be observed.
Incorporated into my collection of works are digitally enhanced papier-mâché images that can be made into prints. Working this way allows me to explore the medium artistically on a digital platform, so the final may not necessarily be a sculpture in a physical sense.
Works constructed out of papier-mâché do not fill the spaces of galleries and museums. It is not taken as seriously by collectors as ceramics, glass, pottery and clay for example and in monetary value. Yet when a varnish is applied in the final stages the forms hold up quite well over time. In the past the medium served a more practical function. It was used in the construction of army helmets by the Chinese to fight in battles and to build furniture by the Europeans. Ceremonial masks too had a practical application in its day.
© 2021 Pamela Stein