Liz Shepherd is a conceptual artist and she works in a different media to think through her big ideas. Recently, she is exploring ideas of family, waiting, and loss through the use of papier-mâché cast around chairs. Two years ago, as her father was passing away, Liz found herself sitting very still and very quiet for a period of days. She looks back at this muted and liminal time, and draws upon the symbols of chairs as representative of this life-changing few days and the experience she had with her father in his final moments.
Papier-mâché refers to the process of layering paper or pulp with an adhesive binding agent. For her chairs Liz uses Japanese kozo paper, made of mulberry and favored for its long and soft fibers. Liz is a long-time printmaker and is drawn to pattern. She silkscreens landscapes and poetry onto the paper prior to tearing it for casting. Through trial and error she has found a ratio of methyl cellulose, white glue, and water to coat the paper and bind them together which she builds up layers around various found chairs. After it dries, she cuts the cast away from the frame and then seals along the parts and incisions to create a ghost of the chair -- the exact same size and shape it was cast from, but light-weight and articulating the layers and bumps of the paper.
Liz's goal is to make about twenty chairs and suspend them from the ceiling as an installation. Her hopes is to give her audience and immersive experience where they can walk under and among the chairs and feel the way they take up space in the gallery.
Here at the Society, you can see Liz working on this project -- and others -- in our Artist in Residence space. She's a teacher at heart and loves answering questions about her ideas, techniques, and materials. Liz will be hosting us for a "field trip" in her studio on Saturday, September 30 and will demonstrate silkscreening and other printmaking processes. She will also be teaching us how to cast papier-mâché bowls on October 21 in a workshop at her studio. Click through for more information.