The nature of stone is hard, unyielding, and must be manipulated with heavy tools requiring pressure and strength. Paper is soft, delicate, and the touch required to work with it isn’t much – one sharp tool can slice right through. It’s remarkable, then, that sculptor T.J. Mabrey can take her deft touch from the solid nature of marble and transfer it to the soft and translucent nature of paper.
Mabrey, who maintained a studio in Italy for 35 years, may be best known for her stone carving, but she has worked in paper before. Since arriving in Taos in 2011, she has been pushing the boundaries of both mediums – her themes explore science, seeds, and nature.
Her latest work is in collaboration with poet John Campion. Mabrey has taken selections from his book-length poem, Consilience, and merged it with large-scale paper installations. These installations comprise the exhibit: Migration metamorphosis symbiosis emergence, which opens in the Encore Gallery at the Taos Center for the Arts on June 9th.
Campion’s poetry focuses on human nature and ecology, paralleling the themes that are present in Mabrey’s sculptures. In this exhibit, the two art forms intertwine: strands of text fall and flow among embossed, folded, and twisted paper elements, with each wall of the gallery representing a word of the title. For example, the piece Metamorphosis represents the flight of the monarch butterfly, while also referring to humanity’s line of flight via language. Emergence explores the duality of science and nature by characterizing a cicada’s transformation while simultaneously examining how minute strands of protein can build life.
All four pieces represented by the title culminate into Lotus, a sculpture emanating from the skylight of the Encore Gallery, where twisted strands and paper tags cascade from the center of hollow cones to represent a mythical flower. Here, the viewer might reflect on how the fusion of three-dimensional art and the written word illustrate the contrast between motion and stillness and the connection between the individual and the collective.
The paper used throughout the exhibit displays a variety of textures and opacities, from vellum to cardstock, which gives Mabrey the opportunity to try different techniques of embossing, printing, and shaping. In addition, she will be using the gallery space deliberately, playing off the walls and ceilings – and using existing windows and natural light in order to integrate the work with the gallery itself.
There will be an opening reception on June 9th, 4-6pm, in which Campion will read selections from the work that inspired the exhibit, which will remain on display until July 17.
Migration metamorphosis symbiosis emergence
A T.J. Mabrey Exhibition
The Taos Center for the Arts
Opening Reception June 9th 4 – 6pm
Show runs through July 17