Today “Paper Art View” celebrates the artworks and an interview with the exciting paper artist Elise Wehle. The unlimited possibilities of paper awakened an endless creativity in Wehle . In her intricate paper art Wehle using a combination of photo manipulation, paper layering and printmaking techniques to transform found imagery into her own unique works. Wehle is an expert of mixing various mediums like: embroidery, cutting patterns, weaving and folding shapes to fabricate new landscapes that are giving you the feel of forgotten treasures. Elise Wehle’s paper art inspiration lays in torn posters hanging on city walls.
Could you please give an introduction on yourself?
I’m originally from California, but not the typical California depicted in T.V. shows. My hometown is a smaller, desert community surrounded by rocks and sandy hills. It wasn’t exactly a cultural epicenter, and my high school rarely offered art classes beyond Drawing and Painting I. Fortunately I was accepted to Brigham Young University, and although I was pretty unprepared for their competitive art program, I had very supportive professors who helped me catch up and work hard. I graduated in 2012 with my Bachelor of Fine Arts and have been making art ever since.
What are you seeking to portray in your artworks, what’s fundamental to your process and philosophy?
Although it may not be obvious in the subject matter, technology plays a big role in my artwork. Most of my art is an excuse to spend time away from ones and zeros. I don’t hate technology, and I use it all the time, but sometimes I overdose on it which makes me pretty discontent. That’s why my work almost always involves a hand-intensive process. I love using my hands and creating something real and tangible with them. Although it initially sounds like something negative, I appreciate when my hands and fingers slightly ache after a long day of art-making. It signifies that I was connected to something real for hours on end. Paper cutting, weaving, and embroidering all give me this experience which is why I use them so much in my art.
While beauty is sometimes an unpopular word in the contemporary art world, I also want my art to be beautiful. While the concepts and ideas behind my work are crucial to it, I also hope it’s aesthetically successful. I pick subject matter that brings me joy by reminding me of the many beautiful experiences I have had in my life.
How come paper became your premium medium for your art creations? And what inspires you?
I was originally a painter, but I found painting very daunting. When I’d start a painting the blank canvas felt endless and overwhelming. There were too many possibilities, and I had no idea where to start on any of them. I had a hard time figuring out how to stretch the boundaries of what I was creating because there were no boundaries. Somewhere around this time I traveled to Italy for a few months, and I fell in love with the torn posters found on almost every urban wall. I started making collages out of them, and suddenly I felt invigorated. I loved that the material offered so many limitations. I only had what I found on the walls, and I quickly discovered that I am more creative when I have restrictions to fight against. This experience really helped me move past some of the stumbling blocks I had from painting. As I experimented with paper more, I discovered that it too offered endless possibilities like painting but in different ways that I really liked. I could do anything with it–bend it, cut it, weave it, fold it, etc. I could both add and take away from the paper. Basically, it’s a material too awesome to turn my back on, and now I get giddy every time I walk into a paper store.
I’m still really inspired by torn posters on city walls. They’re like mini-diaries, records of how weather and time have changed them. They’ve inspired the distressed, torn look that I use so often in my collages.
As a paper artist could you reveal some of the things that go into creating your intricate collages images
I usually start an artwork by finding a photograph that I really love. I then transfer the photo onto thick paper. Sometimes this is done through intaglio, a printmaking process I learned while in college, or sometimes I use gel medium and transfer the photo directly. When it comes to the latter, usually the entire photo doesn’t adhere to the paper, and it creates a distressed look. I then use a combination of punches and x-acto knives to create my paper cuts. I cut into the artwork vigorously, and once I’m finished I usually take some of the original photograph and paste it back on top of the cut out pattern. I’ll go back in with a wet cloth and carefully remove more of the paper until I feel like the composition successfully works together.
Any upcoming interesting exhibitions, events, new projects you love to share with us?
Right now I have some art in the exhibit Cut, Fold, Shred! in St. Petersburg, Florida if you’re nearby. Closer to my home, I have an exhibit titled 90 Visions 60 Days in Salt Lake City, Utah featuring a lot of my new pieces. At the beginning of next year, the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design will feature some of my work in their show Obsessively Reductive. Hopefully some of you can stop by!