Linus Galleries, Los Angeles Art Shows
2014 Artist Interview Series
Linus Gallery of Los Angeles presents our second interview! The Artist Interview Series is a new blog featuring contemporary Linus artists from a variety of different practices and backgrounds. The blog aims to be an enjoyable read, sharing insight into the artist’s creative process and workspace, as well as their view of the world around us. This week we feature Lorraine Bubar, whose process of papercut artworks we find truly fascinating and unique.
1) Please tell us your name, artistic practice of choice, and location in the world.
I am Lorraine Bubar, a papercutting artist, writing from Los Angeles, California.
2) Are you self taught or did you formally study art?
I was able to combine my passion for biology and art while studying at UCLA, with the idea of becoming a medical illustrator. While in college, I became intrigued with the idea of creating animated educational films, which led me to study and then work in the Animation Industry for many years. I have continued to incorporate my love and interest in nature, movement, and metamorphosis into my art. For many years I created and exhibited narrative paintings done with transparent watercolor. I am very excited that I am currently creating papercuts that incorporate my love of traveling and hiking. I began to experiment with papercutting when I realized that so many cultures around the world, from Japan, China, Mexico, and Eastern Europe utilize papercutting for diverse purposes, such as for calendars and for holiday celebrations. I am honoring these cultures by taking a decorative tradition and doing it with a more painterly technique. The intricate lacework of layered papers, from Asian countries where I have traveled, and the colors celebrate the beauty of the planet’s various ecosystems. My next journey will take me to Denali National Park, where I will be an Artist-In-Residence.
3) What subject matter appears most in your artwork?
At first glance, my papercuts depict scenes of koi, birds, water lilies, and other flora and fauna in the unique natural environments that surround us. These pieces are created out of multiple layers of paper and include multiple layers of meaning in the compositions. I often create compositions that include the predators or the hierarchy of the species in that environment. I like that many traditional family trees were created out of paper cutting, capturing the hierarchy of generations in a family. I love any reference that I can make to the historical traditions of paper cutting.
4) What is difficult for you about your chosen medium?
This medium is very time consuming, at least the way that I approach it. The number one question that people ask me is “How long do these take you?” I would rather people ask me other questions, rather than focusing on time. I do not really think how long these take, because I get absorbed in the process and get excited to watch them evolve, especially as I introduce new colors into the compositions. I also find it difficult that people often do not know what they are looking at when they are exhibited. I am delighted when I see someone walking up closely to them and commenting, “Wow, these are made out of paper!” From a distance some often look like color wood block prints, but upon observing them closely, the depth and texture of the paper is apparent.
5) Do you have any secret talents unrelated to your art making?
The secret talent that I have that seems unrelated, but is related, is running. I am passionate about running. I ran my first marathon five years ago. Besides enjoying running, the people that I have met through running, and the races that I have participated in, I have learned a lot by running marathons. A few of the things that I have learned are that there is a big mental component to doing something that is very challenging and that one often needs to “dig deep” to reach one’s goal. I have also learned that it is very important to always have new challenges set, and to enjoy the people along the journey.
Artist Lorraine with her pet tortoise.
6) What do you think the future of your medium will look like for others artists or as a whole?
The more that images are computer generated and the more digital images that I see, the more attracted I am to things that are obviously made by hand. I am delighted that I am developing a decorative tradition into an artistic one. I am delighted that I see many other artists working with paper in such diverse and creative ways. I am delighted by my personal connection to other cultures and to a heritage of working in a medium that children and adults created with only simple tools, for diverse purposes. I like to think that it is obvious that I am crossing the boundaries of culture, art, and craft. I hope that there are more ways for people to connect to their own cultural heritages, as I did when I discovered that Eastern European Jews created papercuts to mark holidays and daily rituals. I hope that there will continue to be ways for people to make artistic connections.
7) Any parting advice for budding artists?
I create my art by using an x-acto knife. I often feel like I was on the knife blade’s edge when I am questioning something in the composition: making a change , adding something, trying some other crazy color combination. Whenever I hesitate, question myself, and fear “messing it up,” I feel great when I go ahead and do the thing that I was questioning. I love taking risks and following my instincts, and overriding the worries about “messing up.” I think of it as being on that knife blade’s edge, and making the cut! Take the risk!–in whatever, your art or your life.
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