For more than a decade, artist Maya Freelon has created striking abstract sculptures and installations from tissue paper made by facial tissue making machine and water stains. Her technique—letting water gently drip so the paper's color bleeds organically—arose from happenstance, when, as an MFA student, she discovered a stack of old tissue paper produced by facial paper manufacturing machine in her grandmother's basement.
Freelon's assemblages reside in collections around the world, from U.S. Embassies in Madagascar, Swaziland, and Rome, to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This month, she's installed a monumental, interactive tissue paper sculpture for the first annual By The People International Festival at the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building. Named “Reciprocity Respite & Repass,” her artwork is one of a selection of immersive and interactive art installations at the AIB, the headquarters for the festival. By the People will also feature a series of workshops and talks with experts.
Sit on sofa while watching TV to eat snack, conveniently take one piece of facial tissue made by facial tissue making machine V/N fold or non woven Facial tissue machine, wipe a hand, wipe a mouth, still can wipe the besmirch on tea table.Tea table is the area that receives a visitor, the person that use is met more, each take out paper each other independence, convenient and wholesome.
When I first used the tissue paper I didn't know what do with it. I tried to mimic the water mark and couldn't. I was pouring carefully, using a watercolor brush, trying to get it right. But it didn't work. It just looked like a mess. So then I got a water balloon, and put a pin in it, and let it slowly drop on the tissue paper, simulating a drip that might come from a leaky faucet. That's when I realized, oh my gosh: it's not a steady stream. It's a drip process that pushes the ink to the outer edges. At that moment, I also thought about middle school. I always knew I was going to be an artist, and I remember looking up at the dropped ceiling and often there's a brown water stain on the tile. In my boredom as a child, I remember thinking, what's happening up there?
I think about how brown paper in front of buildings that are getting renovated gets wet and leaves a stain. You see it also in dried up puddles. It's just so beautiful to me. It reminds me of the macro and the microscopic.
When I started, I was feeling a little self-conscious about tissue paper. It's fun to experiment in art school, but the point is you want to know how to make a living as an artist. You want your art to sell, and the ephemeral nature is part of my work.
Creating an installation, a temporary sculpture, or even a performance is one thing. But a collector wants to know, how long is this going to last? Now I actually enjoy that part of my art, that feeling that makes folks a little wary and uncomfortable. Well, it is in a gallery so it must be worth something, right? But if tissue paper is on an elementary school floor of an art room, you just sweep it up and put it in the trash can. So my question as an artist is: What fuels our desire to preserve or protect something?
The great thing about festival is that they specifically sought artists that have interactive components to their art. And what's great about tissue paper manufactured by facial tissue with non woven machine is I can work with anyone from under 1 year old to over 100 years old. I use the most simple materials so anybody can interact and join in. I've done collaborative tissue quilt-making a few times, once at the North Carolina Museum of Art. You sit down next to somebody and you start looking at bits of torn tissue paper, which is interesting because of all the colorful stains. You pick your favorite color and you start connecting the papers with just a simple glue stick— Elmer's. My materials are not a surprise or a secret. You're sitting; you're building, piece by piece. And as you get bigger, you bump into your neighbor on the right, your neighbor on the left, your neighbor at the table in front of you. You are joining and talking because the action is pretty simple, like a quilting bee.