The Rolled Paper Underwater Worlds of Amy Genser
Paper is a hugely versatile medium, as Amy Genser shows in her beautiful 3D rolled-paper pieces. Capturing the underwater world in a variety of textures and colours, Genser creates snapshots into calm landscapes we don’t see on an everyday basis.
By using paper rolled rightly into circles, Genser manages to recreate sea corals and other natural marine life in each and every canvas.
“I started to play around with paper sculpturally in graduate school,” Genser says, adding that she took a papermaking class while studying for her degree in Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design.
And when it comes to determining what goes into each piece? “The sources of my work are textures, patterns, and grids,” she says. Repetition is a huge part of her work as she tries to “capture the essence of an experience or an image”. The natural world is a huge influence on her pieces, too.
To produce each intricate canvas, Amy Genser tends to work with Thai Unryu (mulberry paper). “I treat the paper almost as a pigment, layering colours one on top of the other to create different colours,” she says. Each piece stretches out to about a foot wide, with layers and layers of rolled paper creating varying thicknesses across the canvas.
“I seal the roll with acid-free, archival glue stick, and then cut the long piece into sections with scissors or pruning shears,” she adds.
Though it might seem like a lengthy and painstaking process, Genser admits that “the rolling and cutting process is actually pretty quick,” adding that she could probably do it in her sleep. The difficult part is creating the composition: “it’s like putting a puzzle together,” Genser says, “only I don’t know the final picture until I see it.”
To prime each canvas before the rolled paper is mounted, Amy Genser preps it with acrylic and gel paint, adding the rolled paper as she goes.
When it comes to inspiration, it is clear that the natural world is a huge driving force behind Genser’s work. The flow of water and natural shapes like beehives make a regular appearance in her pieces, while the “organic irregularity of plants, flowers, rock formations, barnacles, moss, and seaweed” make for the perfect subjects and textures.
Genser’s pieces bring up entirely new worlds for every viewer. Sure, they might initially appear to be taken from the majestic underwater world, but they could also represent satellite views and cellular diagrams. Every piece of rolled paper goes into making the final outcome which, for both Genser and the viewer, is a surprise every time.
Enjoy the track “Floating” by Andrea while you view the additional works below.
Now, Genser has a whole body of work that dives deep beneath the water’s surface. In some, purple coral formations sprawl out from a turquoise backdrop, while others show deep blue bubble scenes against lighter backdrops – almost as if the light from the sun is penetrating the canvas as well as the water’s surface.
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