My work celebrates the delicate nature of paper in museum quality metal sculpture. I began my career as a papermaker, printmaker and graphic designer. The passion I have for paper, the ideas, philosophy and history it has captured for centuries, continued to inspire me when I transitioned into sculpture. How to capture those qualities in sculptural form presented a challenge. While most of my peers were sculpting in clay and casting it into dark, heavy metal objects, I was inspired to do something different. By experimenting directly with paper and wax and working in a lost wax foundry for several years, I developed a process specifically for paper that captures all of its intimate details. The technique took me two years of tireless experimentation in Austin, Texas to develop and seven years of further development with a foundry in Thailand to perfect.
In the beginning, I had to do every exhausting step of the process myself. Today, I still begin every piece with a blank page and manage it through the 35-step, 12+ week process of casting with the help of fine art foundry and fabrication teams. Pieces are cast in bronze, aluminum or stainless steel depending on the design requirements. Bronze for its rich history and ability to capture detail, aluminum for its light weight, and stainless steel for its strength. For some works I employ fabrication techniques that begin with sheets of metal cut into shapes and are welded together for the final form. The results are unique or limited-edition sculptures, forged by hand and completed with finishes that return to the look of paper.
Collaboration is a key component in my process. Not only do I work with skilled technicians and engineers who help make the pieces in metal but I often begin my work in collaboration with some of the worlds most talented paper folders known as origami artists. My desire to create complex ideas and forms that begin with a simple paper square is beyond my ability. Like a musician, I have found that collaboration magnifies my initial ideas into realized masterworks of paper folding. For ten years now, I have collaborated with physicist and mathematician Dr. Robert J. Lang, who can fold almost any detail out of a single square. Master folder Michael G. LaFosse has pioneered designs that are elegant and simple out of his own handmade papers. Next generation folders like Beth Johnson add fresh design approaches and possibilities that I am excited to work beside. More than anyone else by my side, my wife Jennifer has managed the growing administration of an art studio that has become a major corporation. Her skills of organization have enabled me to continue my collaborative creativity.
Most importantly is the work we have created together. It is designed to withstand the test of time, as well as touch. Please touch; I invite you to explore the work in its physical form. Be touched; I invite you to discover the meaning of the work, the stories and ideas beneath its surface.
To me, the single uncut piece of paper symbolizes the ultimate origin. It is the blank page, the starting point from which every creative challenge must begin. Whether you’re a mathematician, musician, writer or artist, through trial, error and perseverance, we hope to make something wonderful out of nothing. That is where all my work begins and this beginning is as much a part of the work as the ending.
Origami animals, paper airplanes, crumpled ideas and innovative abstraction are all themes that inform the surface of my work. Every piece has a title, a reason, and a purpose in contributing to the story I am telling beneath the surface. Motivating the content of the work are my concepts of truth, my philosophy of chaos and consciousness, creation and evolution, the process of creativity and our relationships and responsibilities to one another.
Kevin Box, 2019