Kirsten Hassenfeld, a New York artist, has created incredibly ornate objects from mostly white paper that are far, far from ordinary.
Dans La Lune, 2007, paper with mixed media, dimensions variable, commissioned by Rice University Art Gallery Houston, Texas (photo by Nash Baker)
In Dans La Lune, (rough French translation - daydreaming) for example, Kirsten spent thousands of hours hand cutting, folding, and rolling three types of archival paper - tissue, corrugated, and vellum - to make translucent sculptures representative of abundance, or perhaps more critically, affluent excess.
Blueware, 2009, Installation at The David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Blueware is Kirsten's collection of sculptures that reference traditional motifs of the decorative arts. Although the material convincingly appears to be glazed pottery - surprise! - once again, it's paper.
This is Suite, featuring faceted vellum garlands, reminiscent of gemstones or cut glass, and cameo-like silhouettes.
And look, Kirsten quills beautifully too!
She told me she was introduced to quilling as a child on a school trip to the home of an early Dutch settler near the Hudson River, not far from Albany, New York. She remembers being fascinated by a quilled piece on display that was marked as a traditional Dutch craft. When she started using paper in 1999, quilling came to mind as a suitably sculptural technique.
I asked Kirsten if there has been reaction to the quilling in her exhibits, and am sure those of you who roll paper will relate to her answer.
"Folks are always very focused on the "How long does this take you?" aspect of my work, which I think is odd, because people have always done time-consuming crafts, such as lacemaking, needlepoint, etc. Somehow when its paper, it's almost as if people can't believe I would spend so long on something so ephemeral."
In contrast, there's been a marked change in Kirsten's material of choice in the past year or so, from delicate paper to found treasure - trash - which never breaks down. Not surprisingly, she continues to create stunning art from unusual materials.
You might enjoy this interesting Houston Public Radio interview with Kirsten about Dans La Lune.