by Dilpreet BhullarOct 02, 2022
The natural home once a palpable part of the environment is a reality uncommonly visible or encountered in the current times of climate change. Global warming dwindled the ecosystem on a global scale only to garb the obvious into obscurity. The natural habitation is animated when Pennsylvania-based multidisciplinary artist Samuelle Green creates large-scale installations of beehives, a birds' nest, a creeping plant or the spider web. Carved out of organic paper, Green blows the size of the minuscule homes multiple times in an effort to achieve the audience's attention towards the irrevocable shift in the climate. Green was raised in the countryside of Pennsylvania, later attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and Parsons School of Design in New York. She returned to her hometown from where she currently pursues her creative energies.
As opposed to the constructed beauty of the built environment, the minute detail to which nature gives importance while making a home is a marvel that is often ignored. The immersive installations by Green simulate similar architectural patterns and intricate designs for her installation. The Paper Caves by Green have been popular among the viewers, leading them to an experiential journey around the caves made out of paper. The organic and geometrical work is made out of thousands of pages of books hand-rolled and fixed into a sculpted wire mesh. The interplay between known and unknown, fragile and tough, conceptual and cosmic gives the installation uniqueness in terms of appearance and experience.
The tactile quality of the paper that can undertake many forms and shapes drew Green to the material. In an interview with STIR, Green says, “With the right folds, twists, turns and cuts it can completely change appearance and dimension. The material in the larger installations was partially determined by discovering that huge quantities of damaged books are constantly being discarded." This waste material prompted the artist to transform it into the original Paper Caves installation and its many subsequent iterations. She adds, "This material brought subtle colouration and texture to the work that was not evident in its form as a book.”
Since Green works with large-scale installations it poses challenges when it comes to making and executing the final installation of the paper sculptures. Green mentions, “Each square foot of the work uses approximately 144 individual pieces of paper. Some of the installations have been constructed with over one million individual pieces of paper. Once the pieces are fabricated there are the logistics and shipping to deal with.” Yet the beauty of working with paper lies in its availability almost anywhere. The site-specific pieces can be built by sourcing materials locally. "I was able to work this way in China, Italy, and Estonia as well as across the US,” adds Green.
For the artists, there is a commonality of the subject matter – that of the interaction of the human-made and non-human visual world languages - at the core of her works. Green explains, "Whether, through mark-making or the repurposing of recycled materials, I often seek to highlight the forms and details present in nature which humanity often overlooks and under appreciates. Within sets of self-imposed parameters or on rigid structures representing metaphorical frameworks of natural laws, elements repeat and propagate giving way to organic forms free of their scaffolds both literal and non-material."
The variety of works in the exhibition In the Absence of Gravity and Other Restraints reflected on these sentiments in multiple ways. For instance: the small blooms evoke the feeling of growth and are displayed similar to rows in a garden. The series Alternate Arrangements includes the repetitious paper elements paired with more rigid and human-made elements. Each of the elements is taken out of context and paired together to create a new narrative. Green expounds, “This show also included a site-specific installation Permutation 2. A combination of the manifestations of the paper caves with recognisably human-made elements, chairs. These elements swoop and dance together as if they have been waiting to meet. It seems the chairs are being swallowed by the paper or perhaps emerging from it.”
Green compares the immersive value of her work to that of cloud gazing. The visual artist is cognizant of the fact that the people aspire to see her work determined by their mood, experience, perspective and even geographic location. “One common thread I seek to evoke is the idea that we borrow: many design elements from the naturally occurring world. From architecture to medicine we are constantly learning new things based on that which we find in nature." With the works built out of mass amounts of material waste, Green anticipates they would urge people to find innovative ways to reuse materials.