It takes a lot of destruction to create my paper sculptures.
How do I transform 2,000 sheets of construction paper into an ensemble of solid forms?
I begin by fortifying, spreading plaster on one side of each sheet. Then, I connect: attaching two sheets with thin layers of plaster, I create a delicate form, with white plaster splashes on its uneven surface. Next, I replicate: I build six more wobbly structures, no taller than three feet, spread around the floor. This is my forest of thought and play, the puzzle I have tasked myself to solve.
Now I begin to craft the puzzle pieces. Bending and inverting the paper surfaces, I slice off large pieces with scissors and re-attach them in abrupt moves. Defeated by gravity, the paper structures collapse. I prop them up with wooden planks. The forms break into small pieces, and I reassemble them once more, in different combinations. Then I prop them again, in precarious positions. More collapses result. As each sculpture falls, it disturbs the intricate balance in the ensemble.
I love these accidents. Although devastating in the heat of the moment, they are my prompts to make the sculptures stronger. The whole room becomes my puzzle. Fragments of the ripped-apart forms litter the floor. Countless, sometimes daily, collapses punctuate the process that can take over a year.
And then one day, the puzzle is solved. The ragged surfaces show me where they will connect. The ensemble clicks. Then I begin the final transformation. I connect the edges, fill the holes so that the surfaces become closed forms. I clean the paper moss on the floor, put away the planks. Seven sculptures stand tall and strong, on their own.