by Nikki Devereux | 02.19.21
I recently embarked on a new project that I’m very excited about, and which demonstrates how much growth I’ve experienced over the last few months. I attribute this growth almost entirely to the Creative Pinellas Grant program. The professional development that comes with mentorship and weekly writing has truly been a catalyst in my work and even the way I think about my art.
A couple months ago I started making paper after a particularly lively discussion with my mentor about book making. Since then I’ve embraced what started out as a sort of error. I followed a Youtube video to make my first piece of paper. The result was less than desirable, and looked nothing like the paper in the video. My slice of paper was thick, almost chunky, and had rough, wild edges and an odd texture. I decided to try again, this time thinning the pulp more with water. Again, the result was rather ragged and looked nothing like paper. I set it aside, but kept the pulp to try again, next time using a different technique.
A couple days later, I came back to the paper. I really looked at it and saw something new. I saw character. I saw something sculptural in it, like it was itself something to examine and appreciate. In a phrase, I fell in love with this paper because I allowed myself to actually see it. Instead of allowing my baggage of expectations weigh down the paper, I could now respect it as an object with importance. And so I embarked on making more of this “ugly paper.”
Each piece is new and different. Each piece has its own character. I really never know exactly what the next piece of paper is going to do. They all dry outside under the sun, moon and stars, and sometimes they get rained on before I can bring them inside. They are different thicknesses, different shapes, and occasionally when they get really thick, the edges pull up and dry standing up in odd and delightful ways, like they are frozen in a pose.
I’m using these pieces of paper as substrates for a collection of mixed media objects, where the substrate, the paper itself, is appreciable in its own right. Each work is a study in patience and deliberation. I’m placing a lot of intention in the materials themselves, which is something I have not done before. This is a new direction for my work, but it feels very natural. It feels like the culmination of many facets of my work and my personality, finally meeting in this sublime place.