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Yearnings: An Intersection of the Trivial and Tragic Planes, (a “Joss”, burial paper installation)
November 9, 2018 - December 14, 2018
Enter the slightly darkened room modulated by natural and changing colored lights. Wander the path of a three-dimensional maze formed by a variety of ascending suits and kimonos. They float upwards toward the sky a la René Magritte’s floating men in suits and hats. Take a closer look. These clothes are made of paper beautifully decorated in fanciful styles. In China, these papers and accessories are appropriate attire for the recently deceased, on their way to their next life in comfort, and, perhaps, with status.
Buddhist burial papers are designed to be burned as a vehicle to reach the afterlife. The tradition dates to the Jin Dynasty (200-400 AD). The burning of Joss papers in China is now discouraged as superstitious and a pollutant. However, this paper artform continues to evolve with the latest fashion and technology, to be enjoyed during rituals with, or without, the element of fire, in Asian communities throughout the world. Traditionally, Joss paper is made in China or Taiwan from coarse bamboo or rice paper, often decorated with seals, colorful designs, and stamps.
In this installation, the elaborate paper garments are metaphors for the timeless continuity and recycling of life and death. The installation highlights the beauty of these hand-made, cottage industry creations displayed in a symbolic setting.
As a visitor, you are invited to become part of the cycle of life and death, symbolized by the floating garments. Ring the gong to add the element of beautiful sound, and its connotations of meditation and celebration, to the room flanked by Buddha figures. The aroma of incense and fresh flowers, as well as serving of hot tea, complete the immersion and engagement of all your senses.
All of the paper items in this exhibit are part of installation artist Kathleen Trenchard’s personal collection, thirty years in the making, that have finally come together, and for the first time are on display.
STATEMENT BY THE ARTIST
Cut paper has been used across the ages by many people for many purposes. Examples range from decorations as solace for mourners, to love tokens suggesting the refinement and devotion of the sender
My work in paper evolved from a love of drawing and an awe of the traditional Mexican and Chinese art of paper cutting. My drawings now serve as templates which are destroyed in the process of producing cut work. I am exploring the translation of cut paper into more permanent materials such as metal, suede and multi-colored stencils. The scale of my work varies from 1″/2″ paper cuts, to 18 foot high vinyl window panels.
I enjoy the juxtaposition of folk decorations with my own interpretations, contrasting the decorative with the contemplative. Subtle gradations of light and shadow are almost impossible to achieve in cut paper, which epitomizes perfectly the duality of positive and negative space, both graphically and literally. This challenges the artist to rely on graphic design and composition for the success of the work.
Cut into a single sheet, paper images rely on a web of connectors to hold implied lines and shapes in place. Connectors may be hidden in the imagery or made to stand apart, as in a grid or field that holds the imagery in place. In some of my work, the elaborate shadow cast by the paper cut is the primary art work created through the interplay of light upon the piece.
My works are cut with knives, hammer and chisel, and scissors. I collect a variety of unique paper, plastic, cloth and wood materials suitable for cutting, while seeking new applications for this unique, yet universal art form.
I have been collecting Buddhist burial papers for 30 years, and wish to share this awesome, little known tradition with a wider community. I hope to install the work in an atmosphere that would engage all five senses, to create a memorable, existential experience for all who view it.