Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ornate Paper Art Installation by Kirsten Hassenfeld

Ready for some knock-your-socks-off paper art?

Dans La Lune, 2007, close up 

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.

Blueware (Flower), 2009, paper with mixed media, 8 x 6 x 6 inches

Blueware (Cloud), 2009, paper with mixed media, 23 x 14 x 12 inches

Blueware (Espalier), 2009, paper with mixed media, 86 x 96 x 11 inches

This is Suite, featuring faceted vellum garlands, reminiscent of gemstones or cut glass, and cameo-like silhouettes.

Suite, 2004, paper with mixed media, installed at Brooklyn Museum

And look, Kirsten quills beautifully too!

Suite, 2004, detail

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.

Offering, 2008, paper with mixed media, 90 x 102 x 48 inches

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."

White Treen, 2010, glass, metal, wood, Installation at ICA, Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine

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.


  1. WOW what an amazing art project! Thank you for sharing Ann!

  2. So stunning. I appreciate all the wonderful paper artists you feature. Thank you.

  3. What a great post! Kirsten is so very gifted. Her sculptures are amazing . Its beautiful the way she has used quilled shapes in her sculptures.

  4. That blueware is absolutely spectacular!!

  5. My sister who is a student at Rice, and I had the opportunity to see this amazing exhibit in person. She's really quite talented.

  6. Wow! Thanks a lot Ann for sharing this! You are always able to find the most beautiful and fascinating paper art on the Web.

  7. This just makes me happy. Thanks for sharing!

  8. WHOA - that is inspiring!!! Makes my fingers itchy to start rolling paper again!

  9. Had I actually been wearing socks, you bet they would have been knocked off. Those are amazing.

  10. OH.MY.GOSH

    Thanks for all the photos and showing the close-ups. I would love to see this in person, or just hold one of them! Amazing work. hugs, xo

  11. Wow! That is one talented lady.. totally awe-inspiring..

  12. Very exceptional paper art. Love the cameo and blue ones

  13. Totally mind-blowing work!!! AWESOME!
    Thanks for this incredible post, Ann!

  14. OMG, I can't believe this, its so magical and made of paper. Just amazing, thanks for sharing Ann xx

  15. oh wow, that is incredible! i cannot believe how insanely talented people are. those are so gorgeous!

  16. Socks ARE knocked off. They are utterly beautiful. Very inspirational!

    Listeing to the interview now.

  17. Fascinating - and brilliant! The artists you feature are always such an inspiration.

  18. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, everyone.

    Letters from Elise, I envy you for having seen Kirsten's exhibit in Houston!

  19. What spectacular paper art. Truly inspiring. Thanks for putting together such a great show-and-tell post.

  20. Kirsten's artwork is just divine and inspirational!!!


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