Paper art and sustainable making solutions, “Spinning Paper Threads” at the McClure Gallery.
Paper has always been something fascinating to me. Delicate and natural, this material is often overlooked as mundane and common.
A problem I have with art-making lies in its material. I love to make, I love painting, drawing… I hate making waste. When I began to teach, I stopped painting. I hate having to throw away dried up paint tubes almost as much as I hate watching people squeeze too much paint on their disposable palettes.
Last year, while I was interning at Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR), I was taught to make paper, and led several workshops throughout the year. I was hooked. I am hooked. I ripped up old anthropology readings to make a test sheet. The acting of ripping, blending, and pulling the wet pulp was so liberating that I didn’t stop until I had collaged a rather large pulp sheet on multiple smaller sheets of felt. The uneven patched felt foundation allowed for ridges and bumps in the paper. Once it dried, it was as stiff as a board.
Since then, I’ve made several sheets of paper with all kinds of old drawings. I plan to make a series with old issues of The Concordian at some point.
So it goes without saying, when I got word of Mylene Boisvert’s “Spinning Paper Thread” workshop at the Visual Arts Centre, I was ecstatic. The workshop was part of her exhibition at the McClure Gallery, a collection of delicately woven and crocheted paperworks. Lace-like, they clung to the gallery’s walls, blowing ever so slightly anytime a door opened.
Some looked like netting and shedded reptilian skin. Others swirled so tightly and intricately, it was hard to believe Boisvert used paper to make them.
In the workshop, we learned the artist’s spinning tricks and affinity for Japanese paper, which is thin and tough, made with plant fibers, both by hand and industrially. I was brought into a world of new possibilities. A place where I could continue to make without worrying about the material I would be leaving behind.
I believe that at the time we are living in, facing the climate crisis, art-making practices cannot be excused. No one is above it; no politician, no economist, no student, no teacher, and especially no artist.
If you are interested in papermaking and spinning paper threads, I recommend attending a workshop at Atelier Retailles. Mylene Boisvert will be leading a spinning workshop on Oct. 10, following the beginner papermaking skillshare on Oct 5.