In my earlier works I use decorative paper, fabric, fur, trimmings or whatever is ascetically pleasing to my eye, in order to build my sculptures. Often I work through the process of building the forms in a rather spontaneous way, another words, not mapping them out and allowing the process itself to lead me. A truth about the object is revealed when working this way. It defines a hidden meaning representing pieces of my life. An Origami Server is a vessel that has no real or practical function, yet there is an illusion that it could be part of a decorative arts collection on display in a museum. Its place in a historical sense is a mirage. This absence of belonging, the combinations of textures and use of decoupage is what is strong about these works.


My ethnically diverse collection of ladies is a recent change from my previous works. I use a decoupage effect to convey a message about the secretive ladies. They are in essence ideas that tell a story. These works too reveal a hidden truth. The meaning of the Babushka wall hanging may be a representation of my ancestors fleeing from Russia and the political unrest. The Russian letters on her dress, which is arbitrary, in English means “greetings to the fighters against fascism”. The women’s face on her dress is unrecognizable to me, representing not knowing my maternal ancestors and their struggles as they fled to America. Apparently though, they did escape the Nazis. The babushka facing the wall represents the same thing except with an article of clothing being the only attachment to the past. The Kimono wall hanging is a representation of a doll that is purely decorative, just as jewelry is to my parents family business, requiring no deeper understanding, at least on the surface. Studying fashion illustration in the 1970's plays an integral part in my lady forms.


The paper layering technique buckles in a way that is impossible to predict. In my efforts to control the outcome I use tricks to beautify the forms, like adding an ornament or decorative papers. The sculptures are either too rigid or take on a form that does not appeal to my eye. There are exceptions to this in regards to how other artist might utilize the medium but for me objects go from rigid forms with decorative attachments, to slightly looser decoupage structures. Recently I am able to achieve a more spontaneous results with the papier-mache, similar to quick sketching with a drawing instrument and it can be digitized with interesting results. 


Works constructed out of papier-mache do not fill the spaces of galleries and museums. It is not taken as seriously as ceramics, glass, pottery and clay for example and in monetary value. Yet, when a varnish is applied in the final stages the forms holds up quite well over time. In the past the papier-mâché 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.


This method of drawing with the medium and digitizing it, I think is a modern usage for the papier-mache medium, as long as we continue to use paper. Still from an ecological standpoint paper has the potential to replace plastic in perhaps more ways or usages than already exist.



Tel: 917-576-3746

© 2020 Pamela Stein