It’s a theme carried through the gallery, where works by 22 women artists pushing the boundaries of material and meaning are part of the “In, On & Of Paper” exhibition that continues through March 9. It’s thoughtfully curated by Rembrandt Quiballo, an artist whose own body of work includes digital manipulations of women’s images that question social norms.
Several of these artists work with unconventional materials, such as fire, children’s stickers, and tamale paper.
At first glance, Beth Ames Swartz’s Arizona Fault Line #1 looks like a giant, painted scrap of crushed metal. In reality, she created the piece using layered paper and mixed media including acrylic paint and gold leaf. Created in 1981, using fire and earth as well, it’s the exhibit’s most profound reminder that things aren’t always what they seem.
Annie Lopez works with sheets of tamale paper, making cyanotype photographs, then stitching them together into dress forms. Her 2016 piece titled Favorite Things features images culled from childhood memories, from eating at a local pancake house to attending Phoenix Suns’ games. Here, viewers are reminded of paper’s role in saving and transmitting not only personal memories, but collective cultural and societal memories as well.
The exhibition also highlights intriguing variations in several artists’ best-known bodies of work.
Denise Yaghmourian, an artist represented by Bentley Gallery, often creates exquisite, meticulously-crafted fabric boxes. Recently she centered an exhibit around objects dipped in black paint. However, this show includes Dozens, an installation of different color doll-like faces, created in 2019 using paper clay and paint.
Ashley Macias, another artist whose work plays with human anatomy, is well-known for large-scale murals infused with surrealism that dot the downtown Phoenix landscape. Here, viewers see her work on a vastly different scale, through four ink and watercolor pieces called Anatomical Reflections.
A maize-colored tunnel with hundreds of seed-shaped cutouts sits near the center of the gallery, surrounded by cut pieces strewn across the floor. Inspired by memories of her grandmother’s curtains, artist Sam Fresquez used paper to create Nesting, an installation that explores concepts of home beyond physical spaces. Kristin Bauer’s white Colossus banner hangs nearby, its laser-cut text including an ominous phrase that captures the present moment in American society: Sink or swim.
Using approaches ranging from fashion to photography, these artists are punctuating the power of paper to shape and convey ideas – and reminding us all that sometimes it’s good to run with scissors.