Mary Button Durell‘s paper sculptures are an exercise in limitation. She only uses tracing paper and wheat paste to create her surreal and organic paper works which are bourne out of a desire to challenge herself – pushing the materials until their properties are fully explored. This search through materiality has led her to create work that is both fragile and strong, opaque and translucent, heavy and light.
As she says in a statement on her website:
This body of work uses only tracing paper and wheat paste as material. At first glance these pieces appear to be built onto a rigid wire frame, however, the process is much more organic and the structure is created from my own hand building. Individual cells or cones that comprise most of the pieces are first formed over molds of various shapes and sizes and then joined together using wheat paste cell by cell.
Additional layers of paper and paste are then added for strength and reinforcement which creates the net-like structure around the individual cells.The translucent quality of the tracing paper allows light to play a significant and dynamic role in the work. In combination with the physical structure of the work, this translucent quality creates an interior, as well as exterior, perspective. In certain light, however, the translucency of the paper appears to have the visual characteristics of more solid materials, such as oyster shell or marble. Due partially to the inherent physical aspects of these materials, this body of work has evolved, both in process and form, along decidedly organic lines. These shapes have often been described as biomorphic abstractions or shapes resembling cellular membranes, ethereal bodies and the skeletal structures of underwater organisms.
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