23 January 2007


I collect paper:

And I obviously love patterns that frequently repeat.

I have never once thought of my paper collection as anything other than; a) evidence that I am a packrat, b) a reflection of my taste and whimsy, and finally c) a waste-not-want-not aesthetic and world view that has thus far prevented me from actually spending money on pretty paper. I don't see these as art, even though they are all artfully done.

What, then, does this have to do with art? Probably not a whole lot. It might go a long way to explain my taste, preference for contemporary art and geometric patterns. It might not.

But confessing my paper-collecting mania provides a convenient opportunity to discuss the difference between the scraps that appeal to me and the very different reality of art. One of art's problems that comes up again and again is the difference between designing something and making art. Rephrased, the difference between arts and graphic arts. The two have enough in common to confuse things. Looking at the papers in the image, you can tell they didn't happen by accident. Each one of them was designed by someone who chose each color, shape, where it would appear on the page, etc. There is an element of deliberate, intentional, conscious doing within graphic arts, all aimed at creating an appealing end result.

Art, on the other hand, has questioned the need for deliberation, intention, for conscious trying. I have also come to expect art to provide at least something to think about. All of the paper in my collection is decorative only. Even though it wasn't made to make me think, it does. If it inspires any intellectual thought, it is this: some papers more successfully reach the intended purpose of the paper. Some of the papers are security envelope patterns. YES, I saved envelopes if the inside was pretty. The harmony of their design and function is interesting to me, especially that one with the word EXECUTIVE printed in the interwoven lines. Here you've got a paper (third from the bottom) that tells you not only what it is for, but who as well. Whenever form and function meet in spectacular (or even above-average) fashion, you'll end up having a discussion about high and low art. Fine and applied art. Art and craft. Blech. But I like it anyway.


Dad said...

I like your paper collection and unless you spend a lot of money for the samples it is a great hobby and does not take up too much space and does not interrupt the family life flow. All of my requirements for an individual hobby.

Mary Ann said...

Hmmm, how many hobbies could fit those requirements? I can't think of much else that is totally free, takes up space smaller-than-a-bread-box, and requires virtually no investment of time.

Maybe reading library books?

Mary Ann said...

Oops. Reading takes time. Oh well, I guess I'm stuck collecting paper.