Cut Up/Cut Out Exhibit rekindles ancient art form

Almost every day, people cut paper, or other materials, without much consideration to the actual ancient art form of cutting or piercing. The art of cutting paper dates back thousands of years, with early works coming from 6th century China.

Curated by Bedford Gallery of Walnut Creek, California, the “Cut Up/Cut Out” exhibit provides a modern view of the ancient practice of cutting and piercing materials.

Bellevue is the exhibit’s first stop on its national tour featuring over 51 national and international artists. The works are created through a variety of tools and methods, as well as materials from paper, plastic, metal and rubber.

The artists explore the endless possibilities of cutting into and through their chosen surfaces by converting materials from opaque to transparent, flat to sculptural, rigid to delicate and ordinary to extraordinary. The precision required for this method of art-making is laborious and demanding.

Maude White of Hudson Valley, New York uses a small exacto knife to create primarily women, birds and flowers. Her inspiration spurs from the intricacy and repetition needed to portray these figures. White especially enjoys creating female portraits in a way that casts a shadow. She believes the women shown in these artworks are never alone because “her shadow is a constant and comforting companion.”

Charles Clary of Morristown, Tennessee, uses numerous pieces of paper to create precise peaks and valleys. The pieces featured were inspired by the passing of his parents to cancer.

“Cancer is a disease that is a perfectly structured killer; it is beautiful in its architecture but grotesque in its eventuality. I began to think about nostalgia, longing for a childhood I never had, and parents that I needed. These thoughts brought me to the exploration of drywall and discarded wallpaper. The idea behind the more recent work using retro pop culture from my childhood is of order from chaos, beauty from destruction, and hope for more joyous times,” Clary said on his website.

The “Cut Up/Cut Out” features upcoming artists and others who are solidified in the industry. The collection is designed to offer different perspectives on how ordinary cutting and piercing can be reunited with its historic form.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 22 at the museum, located at 510 Bellevue Way NE.