Stacking Paper with a Purpose

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on June 2nd, 2011

Last week, Amy Beck blogged about artist-in-residence Steven Siegel’s monumental paper sculpture underway in the Museum’s sculpture garden. I was fortunate to work with dozens of volunteers and Museum staff as we assisted Steven in the construction of his 30-foot-long sculpture, now complete. 

Artist Steven Siegel and his Woodson Art Museum sculpture, May 2011

For those who had an opportunity to observe the construction of Steven’s sculpture, I hope you also had a chance to view the exhibition of photographs of his earlier site-specific work in the Museum’s Visitor Services gallery.

In a few weeks, this photographic exhibition will be replaced with artwork by our next artist-in-residence, blacksmith Dan Nauman of Bighorn Forge.

Since many won’t catch even a glimpse of the photographs, I’m sharing examples of Steven’s previous outdoor work here so blog followers will better understand how the artist arrived at his design for the Woodson Art Museum sculpture.

From among Siegel’s earlier work, I was especially drawn to the sculpture Like a hive, like an egg? that he made of newspaper and wood on the southern slope of the Armentera mountain in Italy in 2002 for Arte Sella, a biennial outdoor sculpture exhibition. I was intrigued by the sculpture’s appearance and how it seemed to defy gravity as it “stood” amongst the trees on this mountain side.

Like a hive, like an egg?, 2002, Arte Sella, wood and paper

Oak, 2004, Gong-Ju, Korea, paper

In his 2004 sculpture, Oak, Siegel again sited his work on a wooded slope, but this time in Gong-Ju, Korea. Oak has a more organic look to it as the stacked paper bends around a leaning tree. Visitors have compared it to a paper wasp nest due to its color and shape.

Like a rock, from a tree?, 2008, Gong-ju, Korea, paper

In 2008, Siegel returned to Korea to make another paper sculpture. Like a rock, from a tree? was built along a hillside. During a public lecture while at the Woodson, Siegel described how students were pulled from a local high school to form a line up the hill and passed paper from one student to another until enough paper was on site to build this incredible sculpture. I love the way it melds into the landscape.

Big, with rift, 2009, DeCordova Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts, paper
Detail of Big, with rift 2009

For the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Siegel created Big, with rift in 2009. This sculpture comprises vertical paper columns, stacked in rows, and covered with dried leaves and green ferns surrounded by a dry-stone fence in a wooded setting. Like the Woodson’s sculpture, Big, with rift features an undulating paper wall.

Steve is now back in his studio in New York and I’m awaiting the title for his sculpture – he wanted time to reflect on his experience here and mull over possibilities. As soon as the Woodson sculpture is titled, we’ll post the news to Facebook and update this blog.

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