Monday, June 13, 2011

The Art of Paper Cut – Or, Transforming That Plain Piece of Paper

Prior to attending paper cut artist Sinag de Leon’s workshop, the only thing I knew about paper cut was the wound, and the song with its title. And so, when Sinag invited me to join her June 6 workshop, I agreed, curious about this art form with an unusual name. Also, my exposure to paper art was limited to simple projects in my grade school art classes.

Paper cutting, I found out during the workshop, was a deceptively simple yet complex art. It is this simple – you fold a piece of paper once or several times, you cut patterns into it, you open it, and viola! – instant art!

But it was more than that. If I cut just a tiny circle in the corner, the effect will be multiplied when I unfold the paper. Or, before cutting, if I fold the paper just one more time, or if I fold it another way, the result will be very different. And, with the different ways of folding Sinag taught us workshop participants before we cut the paper, I was able to see the difference. Also, with the use of papers with different colors, I saw how color and contrast can give a paper cut a different character.

I also appreciated Philippine art more when Sinag walked us through a short history of Philippine art and paper art, and later, let us make pastillas wrappers, a dying art form in the country. And through the workshop, I was also able to learn how paper cut art can be ingeniously used for gift and novelty items. The possibilities were endless.

From my different pieces of colored paper came surprisingly beautiful patterns and some disappointments. Sinag emphasized, though, that there are no mistakes. Indeed, there was an element of play and spontaneity in our paper cut activities. While Sinag gave us general instructions, she did not give us a form to follow in our paper cutting. We were free to explore, experiment, and yes, to unleash our inner artist.

This must have been the same kind of spontaneous play Sinag applied when she started doing paper cuts at seven years old and which she now continues, more than twenty years later. As her process in creating art is intuitive, her artworks are all unique and one of a kind. Indeed, just like no two snowflakes are the same, no two of Sinag’s artworks are the same. (And yes, we did snowflakes in the workshop, too! ^_^)

Sinag’s artworks, with breathtakingly beautiful and intricate patterns, some like complex mandalas, showed me the possibilities for paper cut art. And through the workshop and her artworks, I found a new understanding what an artist or anyone with a desire can create. What I can create.

Out of a seemingly plain piece of paper can come a great surprise – maybe even a masterpiece.

For schedules of paper cut artist Sinag de Leon’s workshops and exhibits, check out her Facebook page.

Some of the paper cut workshop participants' works