Randal Thurston calls his artwork "a little bit of a high-wire act."
"I don't design anything. I take the individual components and look at them and see what will work," said Thurston. "I want to make something that could exist only in the space that it is in."
Thurston, of Somerville, Mass., is one of the artists at the new show at the Joseloff Gallery on the campus of the University of Hartford. "Somewhere Between Creation and Destruction" showcases work of dozens of cut-paper artists.
Most artists in the show brought their created works to the gallery to install. Thurston began the exhibit installation with pieces of black paper, and other pieces of brightly colored paper, assembled on a table in the gallery, uncut. From this "high wire act" he created a striking wall installation of black birds on branches. The colored undersides of the birds can be seen in reflection by the light shining from above.
"This will exist no longer than a month. It's about impermanence, mortality, what's ephemeral. I feel that gives it a more intense connection to the viewer," Thurston said.
The exhibit, curated by Lisa Gaumond, is a delightfully eclectic look at the infinite variety of creations that can be achieved with sliced paper.
Across the wall from Thurston's birds is an installation that looks site-specific but isn't: Adam Fowler's two Jackson Pollock-like creations of thousands of thin strips of graphite on paper, piled on top of each other in dozens of layers of swirling loops of gray.
Another eye-catching work is Kako Ueda's "Reciprocal Pain," a full-size cut-out of a human in pain, eyeballs flying out, with birds, bugs, animals, plants, growing all over the body.
"What we do to nature as human beings, even just to keep out lives as human beings, with no bad intentions, we are doing bad things to the earth," said Ueda, of New York City. "Nature will come back to us. ... Maybe this is what nature intends."
Andy Singleton thinks in more celestial terms. Singleton's "Stellar Spire in the Eagle Nebula" cascades down from the ceiling, made from 50 to 60 black pieces of paper cut in whirls and swirls. "I saw images from the Hubble space telescope of nebulas, and they're actually a spire in deep space in a dust cloud," said Singleton, of Wakefield, England.
Guy Laramée of Montreal created a topographic landscape by standing a set of encyclopedias on end and sculpting off the tops of the pages and covers. Olafur Eliasson also cut into a book, to create an ever-changing 3D house. Carole Kunstadt — whose works are also currently on view at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford — cut pages from the Old Testament to create her work.
Tauba Auerbach, who also works in book form, is interested in the moment when a thing goes from 2D to 3D. She fashioned a row of books that open to reveal geometric designs that pop out and stand as paper sculptures. Andrea Dezsö's "tunnel book" is a self-portrait of a woman with her innards exposed. Similar to Ueda's "Reciprocal Pain," these insides are grown over with plants.
Ueda, who also contributed a complex puzzle called "Faces," said she believes cut-paper art brings artists and audiences back to the emotional impact of pre-digital art.
"We need to return to the work of the hand," Ueda said. "I think computer graphics are cool, but as humans we need to use our hands. The hands and the brain are connected."
Other artists in the show are Su Blackwell, Jaq Belcher, Doug Beube, Sang-ah Choi, Béatrice Coron, Lesley Dill, Mark Fox, Christopher Gilmour, Red Grooms, Valerie Hammond, Julene Harrison, Andrew Hayes, Simone Lourenco, Max Marek, Elsa Mora, Nicole Morello, Claes Oldenburg, Mia Pearlman, Dieter Roth, Rob Ryan, Aki Sogabe, Jen Stark, Andrew Sutherland, Richard Sweeney, Sarah Sze, Lane Twitchell, Crystal Wagner and Letha Wilson.
"SOMEWHERE BETWEEN CREATION AND DESTRUCTION'', the seventh International Distinguished Artists Symposium and Exhibition, is at Joseloff Gallery, on the campus of University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Ave. in West Hartford, until Oct. 26. Details: www.joseloffgallery.org.