Paper Power: New TMA exhibit showcases traditional medium in digital world.Written by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
A new exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) aims to demonstrate the continued relevance of paper in an increasingly digital world.
“Drawn, Cut & Layered: The Art of Werner Pfeiffer” opens to the public Feb. 6 and will stay in the museum’s Canaday Gallery through May 3.
Nearly 200 limited-edition works of art in the exhibition include drawings, dimensional prints, 3-D collages and sculptural and experimental books.
Pfeiffer, 77, has used the paper medium as both a canvas and a structural material for more than 50 years. The German-American artist incorporates his interest in machines and social justice issues into his work, which is heavily influenced by his childhood in a war zone during World War II.
Pfeiffer, who spoke to media Feb. 5 shortly after seeing the exhibit for the first time, said he has always stockpiled paper, as it was in short supply during his youth. Decades later, he still treasures paper in today’s technological world.
“When we started with the digital age, we thought it was going to eliminate paper, but it hasn’t,” he said. “In fact, it has probably increased the use of paper. Particularly the older generation like myself, we don’t trust the digital. Whenever we do something digitally, I always make a paper copy. … The new generation, they don’t do that because they don’t know paper. They put everything in the cloud. I don’t trust the cloud. Something could happen to that cloud — it could blow away or something.”
Among the pieces in the exhibit are “Abracadabra,” a flexagon (a piece that can be flexed and folded to reveal new portions of the piece — a brochure available at the exhibit is in the format) and “Out of the Sky: Remembering 9/11,” 6-foot, foldable versions of the World Trade Center towers.
Pfeiffer was an art professor at Pratt Institute near the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and witnessed the second plane fly into the South Tower, as well as the collapse of both buildings.
Censorship is another topic that resonates with Pfeiffer, something else he credits to the political landscape he was exposed to as a child.
“I grew up in a culture and political system where you couldn’t trust anything,” he said. “When I was a kid, I was shot at and attacked. When the war was over, they gave us books and they had [redacted] line after line after line — stuff that we were not supposed to see. I had lived through it!”
A number of free exhibition-related programs will be offered at TMA, including a Q&A session with Pfeiffer from 2-3 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Little Theater. TMA Director Brian Kennedy will co-host the event, which will cover Pfeiffer’s experimental art books, inspiration and career. From 1-4 p.m. Feb. 8, a workshop with Pfeiffer will introduce participants to the art of paper manipulation. Participants will create their own work of art. The cost of the workshop is $50 for museum members and $60 for nonmembers. Registration may be completed at toledomuseum.org/learn/classes.
Admission to both “Drawn, Cut & Layered” and the museum is free. The exhibition, curated by the TMA’s Thomas Loeffler, is made possible through the Ohio Arts Council sustainability grant program. For more information, visit toledomuseum.org.