Papermaking was one The Berkshire’s earliest industries. As early as 1799, Zenas Crane, third generation paper maker, opened the Crane Paper Company along the banks of the Housatonic River in Dalton MA. It is still there today, making paper for the US mint among other products.
In 1903, The Cranes founded The Berkshire Museum www.berkshiremuseum.org in nearby Pittsfield MA. 110 years later, the Museum is celebrating with a delightful show called “PaperWorks: The Art and Science of an Extraordinary Material”. The show traces the history of many traditions of paper from many countries. The best part of the show is a look at present day artistry in this expressive medium.
Called ”Earthtone”, this work is the product of the father and son team of Martin Demaine and Erik Demaine. Eric is professor at MIT and a MacArthur Grant recipient for his work with paper. This is one of several sculptures made out of Mie-tientes paper. If you have ever used it, you’ll recognize it isn’t the most receptive of surfaces for such intricate folding and bending, making these sculptures genius too.
“Blue Ocean Series” is another work by the same artists. These are found in a section of the exhibit devoted to problem solving. “Researchers with an eye of an engineer, a mathematician or a biomedical engineer can translate paper techniques into other fields to eventually solve real world problems.”
This is one of a series of box-like books that have been created from cut paper and thread to make a series of shadow boxes, a world within a world. The artist, Andrea Dezso from Romania, describes these as “tunnel books”, like looking into the lighted window of a house.
Guy Laramee, Canada, “Jade”, 2010. This intriguing set of books have been carved and painted right through their covers and pages.
This shaggy book by Samantha Huang from Taiwan is called “Read Between the Lines”. When you walk around to the other side, the title makes sense, the “Aha!” moment.
“Reading Between the Lines” is my favorite because of the wit, the delicacy of the project and its’ intricacy – I can’t imagine the infinite patience to cut each page and pull out the lines keeping everything smooth and tidy. It achieves great movement and intriguing texture.