Despite being built with a pliable, degradable material, Michael Velliquette’s paper sculptures exude strength and durability. Densley layered walls fortify the borders of his architectural works, and three-dimensional elements evoke mechanical gadgets like gears and other hardware. The incredibly intricate structures also have more delicate features, like the tiny dots and curved flourishes decorating the small pieces.
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the artist hand-cuts each shape with straight-edge scissors or an Exacto knife, utilizing templates, mechanical punches, rulers, and compasses. Requiring between 300 and 500 hours to complete, each monochromatic sculpture begins at the center, and Velliquette expands outward. He shares with Colossal that he “aspire(s) for balance and symmetry in the overall design, but they are not perfectly symmetrical.” Acid-free PVA glue and hot adhesives hold the layers together.
Velliquette first started utilizing the accessible material as a way to model larger installations before it quickly became central to his practice. “Paper comes in endless forms. It can be used in multiple dimensions. It is easy to handle and manipulate, and it is available anywhere. It is inherently ephemeral, but given the right conditions, it can last for centuries,” he says.
The work I am now creating is non-pictorial, non-objective, and non-representational in nature. The perspective of these pieces is left intentionally ambiguous: they can be read hung on the wall like bas-relief sculptures or mounted horizontally like architectural studies. There are new issues around engineering and construction that I have had to tackle as my work has evolved in this direction. The broad aim of this investigation is to use three-dimensional structure and intricate detailing to push the boundaries of paper art literally into a new dimension.
The artist’s work will be on view at David Shelton Gallery in Houston this fall, and he is a 2021 resident at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Until then, follow Velliquette on Instagram for glimpses into his process and studio and to follow his upcoming projects. (via Dovetail)