SW VA LIVING ARTICLE
Gibby Waitzkin - Artist Statement By using forms that echo themselves in the natural world, I explore the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment. My work emphasizes humanity in a vulnerable state - a fragile organic element within nature. I print my photographs on handmade paper and place them within amplified natural forms that fill and structure our surroundings but go unnoticed by people in their everyday lives-- taking in the images, colors, and forms to envision the organic piece in its basic form. By taking inconspicuous elements that are at the core of much larger objects, such as a pod or leaf, and exploding them in size, my work takes these objects out of their immediate context to evoke a sense of the larger issues we must confront.
As a whole the works reflect the fragility of our existence within the confines of the world around us, from our nascent stages, through virility, and eventually cycling through reproduction and regeneration. I take the viewer through the seasons while delving into a narrative told through Mother Earth, Man alone, Man & Woman, the Cradle of Life and finally to the original seed pod form of life’s beginnings.
I begin the process by growing my own fiber at my property in Floyd, VA, along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cattail, bamboo, banana, asparagus, okra and iris will be harvested at different times of the year, capturing an array of different colors and textures. Some of these will be snow-retted throughout the winter, entering into a cycle of freezing, defrosting, and re-freezing. Each fiber is cooked down and stored until ready to be beaten, either by hand or in a traditional Hollander beater, where the fiber can properly expand. With clean water and cellulose fiber, a sheet of paper is “pulled,” where a molecular cohesion occurs for the fibers to attach and produce a strong sheet of paper. This process is derived from a papermaking technique originally created by the Chinese over 2,000 years ago. I also use the fibers to embed objects, pulp paint, and sculpt creating texture and energy, reminiscent of the natural forms.
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