Paper Heart

In artist John Risseeuw's works, the subject matter isn't difficult to decipher. Rather than searching for abstract thought, the viewer needs only to examine the paper on which Risseeuw's art is printed. In his latest collection, "The Landmine Prints" which shows at downtown's Burton Barr Central Library beginning Thursday, September 2, the modus operandi of Risseeuw's previous projects remains.

"The content of the paper is the subject of the art," says Risseeuw, a professor of art at Arizona State University's Herberger College of Fine Arts.

In 1991, he created "The Bill of Rights" -- to commemorate its bicentennial -- by printing the U.S. Constitution's first 10 amendments on paper made of cotton American flags and blue jeans. "It had more meaning because of what it was printed on," he says. "People asked me, 'Can you do that? Can you cut up American flags to create this?' And I said, 'Yeah, it says so right here in the First Amendment.'"

In 1996, Risseeuw created a piece about the world arms trade, printed on paper made from clothing of victims of armed conflict and recycled currency from the top 10 arms-exporting nations.

With "The Landmine Prints," Risseeuw uses the same formula for the paper, but for a different political purpose: to inform the American public of land-mine crises around the world. Using clothing from land-mine victims in Mozambique and Iraq, plant fibers from minefields in Vietnam and Bosnia, and currency of nations that produce land mines, Risseeuw has created 13 prints -- for sale -- that he hopes will not only raise awareness, but also raise funds for agencies that assist land-mine victims.

"I'm not directly related to anyone who's been injured; I'm not a veteran," he explains. "It's just simply one of many issues I'm aware of as an involved citizen."

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Joe Watson