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Using the basic material of construction paper in schoolroom colors, Lydia Gladkova creates vivid sculptures for wall, floor, or table. 


Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she holds a Ph. D. in mathematics from St. Petersburg State University. In 2001, at the age of 27, she immigrated to the U.S. She earned an MFA in sculpture from the New York Studio School in 2010 and has been using paper as a material ever since. 

Gladkova channels her mathematical training to create her sculptures, which range from ensembles of floor pieces built with 2,000 individual paper sheets to playful handheld forms. Evoking puzzles like Tangram and Loculus Archimedius, she begins by cutting the paper into triangles and other basic geometric elements. Then she begins her process of rearranging. Applying glue, and sometimes plaster, she folds, bends, cuts, and reattaches the shapes as they harden, working against time to craft lumpy entities that betray the dramatic process of their making.

Gradually, the paper surfaces become solid. The puzzle clicks. The paper—flat sheets that arrived in a box—has been liberated from its fate.

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