Monday, November 5, 2012

Interview With Lorraine Bubar

Lorraine Bubar 
Family Tree
32x22 in. papercut 2012

What are the key themes that run through your work? 

Many traditional papercuts are symmetrical with a horizontal framework to keep the pieces together, as one piece of fragile cut lace, but also suggest the hierarchy of imagery. Traditional papercuts often had symbolic imagery, especially the significance of the different animals. Many of my papercuts have koi in them to symbolize good fortune. I continue to explore the idea that there is a hierarchical layering in nature. All of these species are predators and interact, doing the “dance” of survival.

Have any of your travels influenced the direction your art work has taken? If so, in what way?

I became excited about letting my art evolve from working with watercolor to working with paper a number of years ago when I realized that so many cultures around the world utilize paper cutting. It is in my Eastern European Judaic heritage, in many Asian cultures including China and Japan, and in the Mexican culture to name a few. As a world traveler, I have always been fascinated with what art forms or “folk art” the local people create. As a woman I have also been interested in how different cultures mark events in their family lives, from holidays to rituals. Papercuts have been created as calendars, to mark births and deaths such as for Day of the Dead, and in Judaic tradition they hung in homes and in synagogues to decorate for holidays. They were created by ordinary people working at home with the simplest of materials and tools. My papercutting makes me feel very connected to this extensive cultural heritage, as well as actually utilizing papers created in Asian countries that I have traveled in.

What is the significance of trees in your newest work? How do they contribute to the structure, the meaning?

In my most recent work, I use trees as the overall structure because of the strong vertical and horizontal lines that create the overall framework of my pieces. Family trees traditionally have been created as papercuts. Family trees cut out of paper are graphic ways to represent the hierarchy or relationships between family members. Trees are used to create totem poles, visual representations of ancestry, historical, and mythological happenings. Trees are homes for species and thoroughfares for others. Trees are symbols of life, longevity, and strength.

Throughout human history, trees have been powerful symbols. Trees represent the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Trees are the link between heaven, earth, and the underworld, reaching down to the ground and up to the sky. Trees are a feminine symbol, bearing sustenance and a masculine symbol, being visibly phallic. Trees are a symbol of resurrection because in the winter they take on the appearance of death when they lose their leaves, and then sprout new growth with the return of spring. Trees bear fruit and seeds which contain the essence of the tree and this continual regeneration is a symbol of immortality. Trees are givers of gifts, including spiritual wisdom. Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree when he received enlightenment. In some myths the tree itself is a god, in other myths the tree is the abode of the gods. The tree is a symbol of antiquity and strength and different trees were sacred to different cultures. Trees have been the witnesses to and often the center of mythical happenings and, despite great imbalances in the environment, fight to keep a foothold in the most extreme conditions.

Lorraine Bubar
39x36 in. papercut 2012
The shape of the trees have given me the structure for my new papercuts, letting me infuse my work with references to my own cultural heritage and other cultures that I am interested in, and letting me include symbols and imagery that occupy and play in their branches and roots.

How or why is a made by hand, one of a kind art piece important? 

In this present computer culture, I am very interested in demonstrating a craft where the hand of the artist is still apparent. These are one of a kind, made by hand, and the labor involved is apparent. There is a connection between the tactile material and the resulting image. In working on them, I enjoy the slow rhythm of letting the piece evolve as the various layers of color are cut away.

How do you like people to view your work—from across the room, or close up? 

The texture and depth in the layering is very important and the detail asks you to step closer and observe the surface. From across the room, people often think that these are prints. I enjoy that surprise when they notice that they are cut from paper and layered.

Lorraine Bubar's exhibition opens November 27, 2012.

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