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Organic Tensions build in Smith

Sculptures by Eden Marek on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Sydney Steinle
Sculptures by Eden Marek on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Sydney Steinle

The Smith Gallery’s newest show aims to explore the science behind the art of paper. With paper sculptures adorning the naked walls of Smith Gallery and a TV monitor on one side showing the viewer the process of the evolution of the paper sculptures, the exhibition by Eden Marek ’15 gives viewers a glimpse of the true magic and beauty behind paper, a seemingly mundane material.

“Organic Tensions” is the first half of Marek’s Mentored Advanced Project (MAP), which was conceived during a semester when she took art and physics courses that helped guide her to her current research project.

Marek said that the physics course, which focused on engineering and the study of bridges, inspired her to think about what a bridge means to a society and to consider the concept of bridging ideas metaphorically and physically. Simultaneously, the art class, which focused on the chemistry of paper, helped Marek connect to the medium with a newfound interest: architecture and engineering.

When she proposed her MAP, she wanted to continue to explore the process of making paper while also utilizing the bridge imagery within paper forms. Marek also said that she wanted to work more with wire and malleable materials that could change shape and form as the paper dried.

The show came to fruition within a time span of two months. After making her first paper sculpture, Marek was then fueled to continue pumping out elaborate yet naturalistic sculptures based in paper.

The paper sculpture on display on the south side of the Smith Gallery was created at the beginning of the show’s development. Marek figured out how paper changed as she added wire to it. This evolution is visually represented in the TV monitor on the opposite side of the first sculpture.

Marek said that sculpture is her favorite medium to work with and that she wants to focus more on the use of specific materials. Because of her desire to study architecture in graduate school, she wanted the show to be structural and evocative of blueprints and reflective of architectural principles, yet still tied to her current study as a studio art major at the College.

“Paper is light, but it’s structural,” Marek said.

Marek’s current show also gave her a lot of insight into how to make paper. Since she made everything from scratch, she said she’s impressed to see the end result.

“Everything, all these forms, are crazy, but they’re just coming from this flat, single surface,” she said. “I started from the fiber, then I beat it, turned it into pulp, and used a screen to scoop [the paper] out and created a sheet.”

The second half of her research will focus more on what it means to be natural and how that applies to wildlife reserves. She will be involved in workshops later this semester to wrap up her MAP.

Overall, while paper is not her favorite medium, Marek said she is still obsessed with it and likes to include paper in her projects in different classes.

“I’m also taking a Sound Art class and I think everyone in that class thinks I’m obsessed with paper because all of my projects in that class involves paper,” Marek said. “It’s been fun connecting my research project with my different class projects.”

Marek’s show will be on display until Friday, Nov. 7.

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