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Paul Stankard: A Floating World / Paper Cuts: The Art of Contemporary Paper

February 4 - April 9, 2006

 

(above: Paul Stankard, Floral Orb with Mask, 2002, Collection of Annie and Mike Belkin)

 

The work of contemporary artists who manipulate glass and paper to elevate these ordinary mediums into realms of the uncommon and exceptional can be seen in two exhibitions opening February 4 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Paul Stankard: A Floating World and Paper Cuts: The Art of Contemporary Paper bring a range of dynamic artworks to the Woodson, where both exhibitions remain on view through April 9, 2006.

 

(above: Paul Stankard, Flowering Cactus, Botanical Series, 1983, Collection of Paul and Patricia Stankard)

 

A Floating World honors the extraordinary work of Paul Stankard, the undisputed master of floral glass paperweights, through 75 objects spanning his forty-year career. The Woodson Art Museum welcomes Stankard to Wausau for a six-day residency in March, in what promises to be an exhibition highlight.

"In Stankard's world-renowned glass art, nature is crystallized," says David Revere McFadden, chief curator of the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, which organized A Floating World. "With amazing technical skill, the artist creates flowers and insects that rival the perfection and diversity of nature by melting and manipulating colored glass rods in the lampworking process, and then encasing them in glass crystal. The magnifying effect of the crystal brings out every intimate detail, from the fuzz on the inside of a petal or bumblebee's body to the fine sheen on a dragonfly's wing, demonstrating Stankard's acute powers of observation and exceptional artistic sense."

 

(above: Paul Stankard, Pine Barren Field Flowers, 1998, Collection of Dr. Michael and Florence Diorio)

 

The intensity and intimacy of Stankard's floating worlds reveal his deep interest in nature's cycles and patterns, spirituality, and mystery. The careful observer gradually notices in his paperweights miniscule words and tiny figures entangled among the plant roots that symbolize for the artist the vital forces that flow through all living things. He strives for "organic credibility" by constantly experimenting to find correct colors or special techniques that allow him to capture the beauty of flowers with an artist's sensibility and a poet's awareness of a deeper meaning.

The wildlife beyond his parents' backyard in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, fascinated Stankard as a child. His love of nature stayed with him after the family's move to southern New Jersey, where he studied glassmaking at a local technical institute and then began making glass for laboratories.

 

(above: Paul Stankard, Rose Botanical Series, 1982, Collection of Dr. Michael and Florence Diorio)

 

In his free time, Stankard's interest in glassmaking led to his creation of miniature glass animals. After teaching himself lampworking skills that had remained secrets since the nineteenth-century heyday of the antique French paperweights of Baccarat and Clichy, he turned from industrial glass to art glass. Stankard originally created traditional semi-spherical paperweights before developing his signature format of larger blocks that allow the figures inside to be viewed from all sides.

Stankard invests these sculptural "botanicals" with elements that reflect his interest in the metaphysical connection between humans and nature. These include "root people," small forms based on illustrations in medieval herbal books, that intertwine in the roots of his plants, and small words such as "seeds," "pollen," and "decay" that suggest the life cycle of all growing things.

Paper Cuts: The Art of Contemporary Paper explores the nature of a material often taken for granted but for which there is virtually no limit to what it can do and how it can be fashioned. Forty objects by 26 American artists illustrate innovative and exciting uses of paper from utilitarian objects to fine-art sculpture.

 

(above: Ron Chespak, Purple Orchid, 2004, paper and linen)

 

Although all the artists incorporate paper into their artwork, they employ a wide range of techniques and styles, including mixed-media assemblages, three-dimensional collage, quilling, and papier-mâché techniques. They also take advantage of the contradictory nature of paper, which can be transient and enduring, delicate and strong, smooth and highly textured, can act as a filter or a barrier, and can be transformed from the flat to the voluminous.

Paper -- whether recycled, industrial-made, or handmade -- invites study and experimentation, making it an ideal medium for artistic expression as Paper Cuts demonstrates.

 

(above: Michael G. LaFosse, Giant Hairy Scorpion, 1998, handmade abaca, cotton, and agave)

 

Education programs

Twenty nature-based education programs with roots in the mediums of glass and paper will omplement the exhibitions Paul Stankard: A Floating World and Paper Cuts: The Art of Contemporary Paper on view February 4 - April 9, 2006, at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

 

Paul Stankard in Residence

Acclaimed glass paperweight artist Paul Stankard travels to Wausau for a six-day residency from March 7-12. During his stay Stankard will interact with area students and Museum visitors in the galleries as he demonstrates his lampworking technique.

At 11 am and 2 pm on Tuesday-Friday, March 7-10, Stankard presents "Lampworking Live!" during which he'll demonstrate and discuss the intricacies of creating his miniaturized flora and fauna. Similar programs on Saturday-Sunday, March 11-12, at 1 and 3 pm will include a short gallery walk with the artist that links his work to the poetry of Walt Whitman.

"The Glass Gospel According to Paul" on Wednesday, March 8, from 7-8:30 pm offers a slide overview of Stankard's development as a paperweight artist followed by a Q&A, book signing, and refreshments.

 

Adult Programs

Jeanne Ramsey, owner of the Scrapbook Studio in Wausau, teaches newcomers to scrapbooking how to create a page of memories having a botanical flair on Wednesday, February 8, from noon-2 pm. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

Wausau photographer Ray Mickevicius seeks . the exotic in the ordinary. On Sunday, February 12, at 1:30 pm, he'll present "Capturing Natural Beauty in Our Own Backyards," a close-up look at some of his favorite hometown finds. He'll also discuss. elements of digital photography and darkroom . techniques. A dozen of Mickevicius's works are on. view at the Woodson Art Museum from February 4 - April 9 in the exhibition In Plain Sight.

Two Master Gardeners who serve as Woodson Art Museum docents will highlight the floral and botanical elements as well as the artistry of Stankard's paperweights during 45-minute gallery walks. Pat Boerschinger, who also volunteers. as a gardener at the Art Museum, begins her walk at 1:30 pm on Sunday, February 26, and Dana Sanft, manager of Clearview Nursery, Weston, offers her talk on Wednesday, March 15, at 12:05 pm.

Teens and adults who enjoy interactive art experiences can try their hand at paper casting on.Saturday, March 18, from 9 am-noon. Participants will create one-of-a-kind three-dimensional sculptures using colored pulp and then embellish them after the pulp has dried. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

Tussie-mussies are charming fingertip bouquets that incorporate the same types of floral components as Stankard uses in his paperweights. On Wednesday, March 22, from 12:05-1 pm, floral specialist Mary Clare Vullings will teach a class in creating these small in-the-round arrangements. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

 

Youth & Family Programs

A portable paper lab, courtesy of Weyerhaeuser in Rothschild, will be open to families and adults on three occasions: Saturday, February 11, and Saturday, March 25, from noon-4 pm, and Wednesday, February 15, from 11 am-1 pm. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and guide visitors through a hands-on paper-making experience.

Two free pre-Valentine's Day programs will allow youngsters to make handmade paper with Shari Selting, a Weyhaeuser paper engineer, and then transform their paper into heart-shaped or heart-decorated cards. Children 5-7 meet Tuesday, February 7, from 4:30-6 pm; 8-12 year olds meet Thursday, February 9, 4:30-6 pm. Register at 845-7010.

Toddler Tuesdays on February 21 and March 21 from 10:30 am-noon focus on basic art forms using paper and on projects inspired by insects, flowers, and other plant life. No registration is needed for this come-and-go-as-your-schedule-permits program.

Family members can work together or individually to create a molded sculpture using the paper-casting process during Family Fun on Saturday, March 18, from 1-3 pm. Children must be five or older. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

"Art Time for Tots" is a free one-hour parent-child program designed to spark creativity on Tuesday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. Register at 845-7010.

 

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