Construction: paper

Sphere #2, Teresa Redden, 2010
archival paper, glue, 2” round
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

A few months back I wrote about artists in Seattle and New York using paper and skin interchangeably. I didn't think the use of paper as a metaphor for human experience would inspire me again so soon. But then again, it's not so often I see a show as well curated as PaperWeight at Catherine Person this month. The title is more than a witty self-antonym, it accurately describes the emotional, religious and philosophical weight of the works.

The show very quickly leaves the page and moves into the third dimension. I was glad for this, the flat works didn't have the same presence as the sculptural pieces. Rachel Illingworth and Jeffrey Bishop's two-dimensional pieces disappeared along side the sculptures. Rachel's works neither referenced their materiality, nor did they evoke any sort of social or emotional weight. Jeffrey's bizarre distortions of ink and oil incorporating sparing amounts of text were, to his advantage, collated with Bo Choi's bible sculptures along the south wall. The pairing of Jeffrey and Bo's bodies of work was smart: they both invite you to read the illegible, in written word and in form, but I was lost to the subject matter of Jeffrey's work.

Transcend, Lynne Saad, 2005
Mixed media on oversize playing cards, 33.5 "x 30.5" framed

Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

The late Lynne Saad's quilted paintings on paper approached what seemed like a sincere autobiography and then they backed away shyly - I couldn't dive into her work, there were just too many subtle half-stories. But the materials and the process were enough to impart a narrative that kept me searching, trying to locate a plot or at least a main character to the dizzying grid of pictograms.

Bo Choi's sculptures are a different story, literally. Soaked in meaning, her piece Let Us is a thirty-four foot weaving of Old Testamant text. I originally saw the piece hanging vertically from the high vault of the CMA Gallery in the spring of 2009. It was biblical. Now it presses into the pedestal like coiled guts. I asked Bo what this piece meant to her.

Let Us, Bo Young Choi 2009
Woven Bible pages (Old Testament), 1" x 408"

Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

"I destroy the bible and then rebuild it" she said. Bo grew up Catholic and "never had freedom"; but always had to "wake up at the same time, pray, go to church" and "feel guilty saying bad things". Bad things indeed - I wonder what the discrepancy is between how badly she felt while destroying the bible and how badly she felt she was supposed to feel about destroying it. Did her personal discomfort match the imagined societal anxiety over bible molestation? In a small way Bo is a Martin Luther; deconstructing and piecing her faith into a personal language for herself as a visual artist. "This piece is about reconstructing, recreating from my own understanding" and "rebuilding a relationship with God". Her sequel Bible Knitting reiterates her point and nothing is lost in translation.

Bible Knitting, Bo Young Choi, 2010
Knit Bible pages (Old Testament), 13" h x 2" w x 3" d
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery


Three Musketeers, Justin Lytle, 2010
wood, brass on altered book
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

Justin Lytle continues this thread of translation, but in a much more sensational manner. His altered book sculptures are explosive and blunt. Three Musketeers is a cut and unraveled book of the same title, wound into three columns holding the book aloft, conjuring a toast of the three swordsmen. To be sure, his execution can be excessively blunt: the book Surprise for Timmy seated on a little chair, Napoleon's pages disemboweled and bleeding. Yet, the theatrics are refreshing, compared to the underwhelmings of other conceptual book art (no offense Tim Rollins + KOS). As Justin said to me, "A book wants to stand out". They do.

Napoleon, Justin Lytle, 2010
wood, brass, soft pastel on altered book, 76” x 28” x 18”
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery


On slender pedestals, lying still beneath the viscera of Napoleon are three tiny geometric shapes. I always take pause before using the word "beautiful" in any of my writing, but there is no other word to effectively describe Teresa Redden's airy, gossamer figures (okay I found a couple words). A mix between lace, chain-mail and the negative spaces of a hole puncher, Teresa interlocks miniscule paper rings to build the simplest of forms: cylinder, sphere, cone.

Cylinder #5, Teresa Redden, 2010
Archival Paper, Glue, 1.625" x 1.625" x 2.125"
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

Sphere #2, Teresa Redden, 2010
archival paper, glue, 2” round
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

"People underestimate the power of pattern" she told me. And if the alliteration in that particular sentence was not evidence enough, she continues, "There are three types of pattern: repetitive, additive and hypotactic". Repetitive continues a pattern, additive compiles more patterns onto an existing one and hypotactic is just chaos. I tried to follow all of this and keep my eyes from crossing as she explained that these patterns are representative of every single thing in our lives. "It's as simple as that" she says. Heavy stuff, really.

'Cone', Teresa Redden, 2003,
Archival paper, glue, 2"x1.75"
Photo courtesy of Catherine Person Gallery

Paper weight is up through March 27th at Catherine Person Gallery.