Angelico - Lisa Nilsson

Perhaps you remember Tissue Series that was featured here last winter. Since then, artist Lisa Nilsson has continued to quill cross-sections of human anatomy using long strips of mulberry paper that she cuts with a guillotine-style paper cutter. Her most recent work is Angelico.

Life-size head
16 x 18 x 1.5 inches
Japanese mulberry paper and the gilt edges of old books

Lisa invited me to visit her studio while I was in New England this past July, so I had the pleasure of seeing Angelico when it was nearly completed. The rich colors and densely rolled and folded strips are breathtaking; the gold halo practically glows.

Angelico - detail

I asked Lisa to tell us about Angelico:

"The piece was inspired by a Fra Angelico painting of an angel from which I used the profile and the "disc-approach" to depicting a halo. I spent about two months making it."

Angelico - brain detail

"I find that I am most inspired by religious art objects and medical or scientific objects and imagery. I am seeking ways to include and combine them in my work. My first step in this direction was "Praying Hands"- a depiction of a transverse cross-section of hands in prayer position." (There are pictures of the piece on her website.)


"I am a science-minded person though I strongly relate to the devotional quality of art making among some religious people, and I favor a return to a precious and reverential approach to art."

Image credits: 1 and 2 - John Polak of John Polak Photography; 3 and 4 - Lisa Nilsson.
Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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