Slash – Paper Under The Knife


When my daughter and I were in New York last month visiting colleges we popped into one of the city’s newest muesums, MAD – Museum of Art and Design. A little jewel with a tony Columbus Circle address, the museum seeks to “collect, disply and interpret objects that document contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art and design.” I was very excited to see it’s lastest exhibition, Slash – Paper Under The Knife. Paper is ubiquitous. Cultures around the globe have used paper for now going on eighteen centuries. It’s a medium we take for granted and as Curator David McFadden says in his introduction to the book that accompaines the exhibit, “therein lies its appeal as an art medium. It’s true value is discovered only in its transformation. Paper can be used to express profoundly personal aesthetic visions as well as to provoke debate about issues that range from global politics to personal poignancies.”

Give a listen as MAD’s Chief Curator (he has a very cool job), David McFadden describes the exhibit.


This amazing…really amazing…piece hangs from ceiling of the foyer of the museum. Made from paper, board, wood, balsa wood and acete, “Non ci Resta Che Paingere (There’s Nothing Left To Do But Cry) is the genius work of the Italian artist, Andrea Mastrovito. It’s hard to really see how stunning this ship is as it descends from the ceiling.


Andrea Dezso has created 30 of her “tunnel books” for this exhibit. These were at the top of my favorites list. They are lined on a wall and lit from above, giving them a theatrical feeling, revealing imagnary worlds from her subconscious. 


They are small, 7 X 5 X 6, and feel very book like. I was enchanted.


  London artist, Rob Ryan has several pieces in the exhibit and is one of about five of the show’s artist’s who work in silhouette. I like them all and stand in awe of their ability to wield an exacto knife, but I found his work particularly poignant. I have seen his books and work in print, but to see the cut paper up close is breathtaking. He says of his work, “To me papercutting means that everything is stripped down as much as possible. There is no tone, no variation of color, no penicl mark, no brush strokes. There is only one piece of paper, broken into by knives; within this is the picture, the message, the story, written and traced in silhouette. Such simplicity, I somehow feel, makes my work more readily accessible and easier to digest. My work is as much about sadness, being alone, longing for love, as it ever was. I am by nature a nervous and unsettled person. People who have seen and felt my work tell me they find it reassuring and calming. This is why it is made, to help settle and calm myself. We all really share only one story, and my work tells that story over and over.”


Mia Pearlman creates beautiful site specific ephemeral pieces that float into the space.


Su Blackwell’s transformative book pieces inspire and delight, allowing the books to “read” in a new way.

If you are in the neighborhood, it’s well worth your time to stop by MAD and if not, the book is available from their shop and will be available (slightly discounted) on Amazon December 1st. After my own tiny foray into drawing with scissors the past two summers in Sas Colby’s workshops, I have a fine and deep appreciation of the considerable skill and talent these artists bring to bear on the humble medium of paper.

post script: Does anyone else wish the “new” Typepad was the “old” Typepad? I can’t for the life me get the spacing to work on this post, nor the justification. Sorry it’s so bunched up. Making a help ticket NOW.

5 Responses to Slash – Paper Under The Knife

  1. Julie says:

    These look amazing! Someone else mentioned this on another blog not too long ago…totally mesmerizing..I want to check out the book.

    After ticket after ticket to typepad, (don’t you think it’s bad when you know the help staff by name?) I quit Squarespace now..having a great time and things are working as they should. With typepad, I was having to incorporate my own language of their template + my html to get stuff to work. I am in a happier place now. Best of luck..tell Zachary I say hello.

  2. Lisa Hoffman says:

    oh MAN this looks good.
    I’m going in two weeks.
    Thanks for making me pace and stare at my watch!

  3. Stephanie says:

    THANK YOU for sharing this! I heard about it but have not seen such great images as you have posted. AND LIsa gets to go!! lucky lucky girls!!

    I adore this museum, have not visited it’s new location though.

  4. Paper can be used to express profoundly personal aesthetic visions as well as to provoke debate about issues that range from global politics to personal poignancies.

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    In our kitchen is always necessary to have a good knife, because I think it depends on us to cut everything just right. We must be aware of the flavors of our foods, but also of the appearance.

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