Chicago area artist Nancy Steinmeyer has been pulping and experimenting with paper and the business of professional art for the past 20 years. During this time she has shared her information through lectures, discussions, demonstrations and workshops. The following descriptions are the results of this experience.
The sarcasm and wit of her
artwork and dynamic personality is prominent throughout her
speaking. Nancy is happy to share her mistakes and in some cases
embarrassments to demonstrate a point. Her talks are not only
educational, but entertaining as well.
One might say I paint with recycled paper or I sculpt in color. I have an education in drawing painting and print making. This has given me the foundation to apply the knowledge of paint, it's application, and the mixing of color to the process of papermaking.
To make paper pulp, I begin with good quality watercolor or print-making paper which is then torn into approximately one-inch square pieces and put into a kitchen blender. Water is added to the paper chips inside the blender. It is then ground into paper pulp the consistency of oatmeal. At this stage, color is added to the pulp and it is once again blended. This step dyes the pulp to the desired color. To make each piece of art, a wide variety of colors are produced.
I work the pulp in a variety of ways: direct application, inlaid color, cast forming and sheet forming. The use of paint on the surface is minimal. To produce the figurative sculptures the colored pulp is directly applied by hand to a wire armature. The larger pieces are produced in layers which are allowed to dry completely, before the next layer is applied. After the sculptures are built up to their final form, real objects such as jewelry, buttons, and ties are added. These items not only add contrast but give the figure an individual personality and character.
I enjoy the challenge of
distorting and fooling space. In the life-size figures, the heads
and torsos are basically flat, with forearms and legs extending
completely into space. I like the variety of visual effects; from
the front, the figures appear correct, with a play on
foreshortening. In contrast, the profile appears to be arms and
legs protruding from the wall. Paper, because of it's light
weight and versatility, is readily adaptable to just about any
distortion or manipulation.
PAPER CHANGING FACES:
The purpose of this talk is to demonstrate how an artist's work develops from a technical stand point, and how ideas for the subject matter are developed. During this show Nancy reviews her own artwork. Technically her work began almost as painting in paper. She dyes the paper pulp and then places the colors next to each other almost like brush strokes. As her experimentation with paper continued the work slowly began to push its way from the surface first creating a very low or bas-relief. Currently Nancy's sculptures are both high in relief and technical skill.
Nancy addresses the change in subject matter as it relates to her current life experiences. Her six years as a bank employee impacted and inspired many pieces. One such piece is "Teller Station Thirteen", a life size teller station complete with uniformed teller and two patrons. When this piece was installed as a special display in the bank lobby, confused customers went there to stand in line.
This talk is appealing to
non-artists. It is not detailed in technique but insightful into
the development and thought processes of a professional artist.
Age: high school to adult; Length 50 Minutes; Fee $150.
The business of art is much like an overgrown path through the woods. Nancy uses the same slides and basic overview premise described in the above paragraph. She also sprinkles this talk with stories of her own business experiences. Students will find that she has made some of her greatest discoveries through her own mistakes.
This talk is appealing to
serious advanced art students and professional artists who may be
struggling with the business side of their work. Age: college to
adult; Length 50 minutes; Fee $150
Is your scrap paper pile growing? Grind it down. Old newspapers in your way? Grind them down. Got any old ugly artwork? Toss it in the blender and punch liquefy. Need inexpensive duplicates or stationary? Look in your blender.
Any of the following demonstrations can be stretched into a hands on workshop situation. Generally the demonstrations and workshops are designed for middle school, high school and the beginning adult artist. Grade school demonstration/workshops are shorter, simpler versions of what is described below. They emphasize more hands on experience and less lecture. A more intensive advanced adult class could easily be designed to fit the needs and facilities of any organization.
The workshops described below
are all the same price. Whenever the time and circumstances allow
Nancy likes to get students involved in a hands on manner. This
workshop would be best at a slow pace reviewing each step while
encouraging active student participation. A high speed version
can be made to squeeze snugly into a class period. Age: middle -
high school; Length: 45 min (very fast), 90 min (better); Fee: $
75 (45 minutes), $100 (90 minutes) A supply list is available on
This is a demonstration on how
to form a sheet of 8 ½ X 11 hand made paper. This demonstration
includes the grinding of paper; use of a mold and deckle; and
laying a post of paper. The post is then compressed using a
homemade press (easy to duplicate). Lastly, the sheets of paper
are removed for drying.
This is a demonstration of paper
casting. It begins with a brief discussion of making a low relief
positive sculpture and casting it into a plaster negative.
Grinding paper pulp is then demonstrated. The next step is
applying the pulp into the plaster negative. A casting that has
already been dried is miraculously produced to show how to
release the work from the plaster.
HAND IT OVER:
This is a demonstration of paper pulp that is hand manipulated. It begins by grinding paper and dying the pulp into different colors. An image or design is created by shaping different colors of pulp next to each other. After the design is complete the excess water is pressed out with a sponge.
This can be the simplest concept
or the most difficult
ART AND ARTIST:
Groups enjoy the opportunity to meet with Nancy at a museum or gallery to discuss the actual pieces of art. She encourages participation by asking questions about color, design and details. Ultimately the artist explains the subject matter and design choices as well as the development problems.
This talk is fun for both the
artist and non-artist. It is open and flexible enough to give a
talkative inquisitive group enough rope to run. Age: middle
school - adult; Length: 50 minutes; Fee: $150.
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Last revised: June 24, 2004.
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