It’s been almost 2 years, and my site specific cut paper installation, HOVER, is still floating happily amid the gorgeous clothes at the Leon Max store in Westbourne Grove.
I think of my installations as puzzles that I both create and solve. Usually I cut every piece by hand, but HOVER is made of laser cut paper based on tracings of my existing paper pieces, which I had output in a range of sizes. The puzzle this time was how to use a limited number of shapes in a way that didn’t feel repetitive.
My process is very spontaneous and intuitive. I don’t make drawings or plans in advance, I just bring the paper pieces and start creating the installation based on my response to that particular space: the light, the traffic patterns, the mood. For this project, the architect had to install ceiling lights around my installation, which meant he had to wait until the last possible second, but he was extremely accommodating of my methodology!
Since then I finished UPLIFT, a giant public art project in Boston commissioned by Liberty Mutual for their new headquarters. Made of water jet cut steel and aluminium, UPLIFT appears to emerge from an outdoor plaza and rise through the building’s windows to swirl around a two-story circular atrium. These days I’m working on SOAR, a public art project in New York City’s subway system on the A train line. Like UPLIFT, this project also translates my hand cut paper shapes into another material, using the same methods for HOVER but output in steel instead of paper.
Of course with public art I can’t just bring my paper pieces and get to work, everything is planned way in advance down to the smallest detail. It’s been surprisingly easy though to go from making totally ephemeral works to permanent projects, because no matter the final material, I start by cutting paper in my studio and playing with it until I come up with the final form. Hopefully these permanent projects retain the spontaneity of HOVER and my other paper installations, in a material that lasts forever.
By Mia Pearlman