Left to Right: Gaea (First Window). 2012. Cut paper illuminated by fluorescent light. 52 x 28 inches.
The Invention of Poison (Second Window). 2012. Cut paper illuminated by fluorescent light. 52 x 28 inches.
Residuum (Third Window). 2012. Cut paper illuminated by fluorescent light. 52 x 28 inches.
“Help it grow,” whispered the forest spirit. At five years old and ready to believe in anything, I imagined her words were meant for me. The fairy was from FernGully, an animated film about a forest trying to survive in the face of human destruction. When I was young, I watched this film religiously. Coupled with my early-established enthusiasm for nature, it impressed upon my mind the idea that the natural world was a place where magical events occurred. Even now, I remember my family’s frequent trips to parks and wildlife reserves as the highlight of my childhood. At that time, I was living in a suburban environment, but since we were not near the city’s center, my house was still hedged by a lake and a small forest. In these places, I ran free and played with my brother. We got lost in bamboo forests, adventured through the marshy edges of lakes, and climbed trees, looking for spearhead-shaped rocks beneath the leaves. Everywhere I looked, I saw worlds waiting to be discovered – within a raindrop, a leaf, a snow crystal; nature was sacred to me. However, as I grew older and began to understand the world that surrounded me, my relationship with the environment became more complex. How could I reconcile my love of our earth in a society that seemed to require its destruction?
This is a question I continue to struggle with today, and one I explore through art. With the influence of fairy tales from around the globe, I decided to craft my own story. It is the legend of our planet, as told through the imagery of myths. The figures emerging from my cut-paper tapestries are woven together in a natural landscape. Some may be recognizable fairy tale personas while others may be unfamiliar, but every figure interacts with its environment in some way. Each being inhabits two worlds – the fairy tale I have created and the record of our planet. While I wish to remind viewers of their connection to the earth, I also want to recall our youthful willingness to believe in stories – to not only hear them, but to listen to what they have to say. For many of us, myths and fairy tales were our first encounter with ideas of morality and virtue. Now, perhaps they may once again remind us of those lessons that, with time, we may have forgotten.
There is a delicateness that belongs to cut paper, an intricacy and interconnectedness that mirrors nature. The carving of that paper, the shaping of it into stories, parallels the way we humans have crafted and molded our own world. Every breath, every footstep, is a cut in the page; everything we do changes our environment. For many years, humans have used the earth as their resource without a full understanding of how much damage we cause. In contrast, the process of cutting paper in such detail asks us to be aware of every move we make.