WINTERWORKS  Paper Cuts by Lucinda Clarke

Initially, my work could be seen primarily as craft or decorative ornament. Indeed, much of the pleasure that I find, and hope that others find as well, is simply in the beauty of the abstract design.  I love and find inspiration in the Arts and Crafts movement, along with traditional lacework and the patterns of Moorish and Celtic design.  My devotion to hand work is definitely a hallmark of a strong craft element in my papercuts.  By cutting the folded paper with scissors, a unique result is created each time. This is pure craft. Here there is no machine like repetition, but rather an unpredictable, serendipitous process.

  However, I find many aspects of both the process and the images of my work to hold meaning and message which implies a broader artistic identity. I choose to focus my papercut images on insects, amphibians, reptiles and botanicals, as these are not only what I love, but in them,  find parables of many truths of life and community.

My snowflake style papercuts may be perceived on multiple levels, depending upon what one focuses. Each hand cut shape is an individual referential image which when combined together become a unified abstract design. It is actually impossible to see both the abstract design with its negative space, and the foreground individual images of insects simultaneously. Within these papercuts, all of the shapes must be connected or the structure fails. As in the larger world, all the individuals are bound together and coexist in a complicated, many faceted relationship.

My stenciled silk scarves are to me like delightful sun-dappled garden worlds, layered with many creatures.  Some are intact, but some are just fragments, somewhat like finding a bit of butterfly or dragonfly wing. Some are seen clearly, others barely glimpsed, but all are connected and dependent on the rest. It is a dynamic place. Interaction and connection are essential, but too much overlap creates chaos and confusion.   Some degree of separation is necessary. Too dense a pattern results in a loss of individual identity and also of the beauty of the design. This delicate balance in the fabric of the community maintains the integrity of all.

This is no place for exclusion.  As in the garden, all of the creatures, no matter how small or unattractive, are important to the whole. I love including those that may not be beloved, but are nevertheless part of the essential fabric. Nearly every one of my scarves contains a spider and a caterpillar, and I smile at the thought of the silkworms that make it all possible. No matter that we shy away from some, we are all at our best when connected to the rest.

The ancient craft of paper cutting is found in many cultures throughout the world.  It was probably created in the fourth or fifth century by the people who invented paper, the Chinese, where it is called hua yang.  There it is done with scissors and is used in all aspects of decorative work and design.  The craft spread, taking on many styles and forms.  In Japan it is known as kirgami and is traditionally made with several layers of colored paper cut with small knives.  The German style utilizes folk motifs in mostly asymmetrical designs and is called scherenittensch, (pronounced shair-en-shnit-teh).  In the mid-1700's it was brought by immigrants to Pennsylvania where it is still a popular craft.  In Poland it is called wycinanki and was developed by shepherds in the 1800's using leather and bark.  There the craft developed as household decorations which were placed directly on the walls and furniture.  These are symbolic, symmetrical images oriented around holidays and special events.  Papel picado is the Mexican form of pierced tissue paper which is cut using a chisel and hammer technique.  Designs often resemble lace and are used as flags and banners.  In France the era of sihoulette developed great popularity during the Victorian era.  
Today many forms exist.  The repetitons and designs of a paper cut are limited only by the artist's patience, perseverance and imagination.  My designs are cut free hand with scissors and  incorporate images of nature inspired by my passion for the outdoors and gardening.
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