Daniella Woolf Paper Trail
Paper Trail A solo exhibit of the work of Daniella Woolf Glendale Community College Gallery March 15-April 11, 2014
Details of Cut Out 4397 2014
Paper Trail noun: The records left by a person or organization in the course of activities. I recycle, repurpose or remake work. In some cases I honor another person’s work by transforming it. Several of the works for this show have been restructured completely from large installations that have been cut into tiny units, retaining the original energy. I use simple tools: scissors, drill, Xacto, self-healing mat, awl, sewing machine, saw. The unifying element of all the work is thread and string, and occasionally magnets. In my practice I explore the tensions between order and chaos, revealing and concealing, OCD vs. perfection. Questions I try to answer: What makes it compelling and what makes it drudgery? What do we do with our parent’s stuff? What will we leave to our children? My work always includes a celebration of pattern, and addresses the issue of containment. Memory, identity, and belonging are included in the making of this work, and the story telling that is concealed within it. Family Portrait installed on the wall, 96” x 96” shred and woven family letters, 2013
This Paper Trail exhibition includes five distinct series: Family Portrait, Protection, Core Sample, Contained and Bound. All the pieces reflect memories of a childhood where I grew up in a magical family business, with parents who had wildly divergent interests. We went to the theatre: Civic Light Opera, Mark Taper Forum, The Ahmanson, movies at the Academy, and of course art museums. We took a lot of road trips. We went to antique stores and auctions. We had a mountain cabin at Lake Arrowhead. My playground was a Hollywood prop house. I watched my mother doing double-entry book keeping for my father. I observed his work ethic, his business acumen, honesty, love of flying, fascination with gadgets, his strength and athleticism. My mother was always knitting, crocheting or needlepointing. Her fingers were always busy; she even knit in the dark, in the movies. Both parents loved good food and entertaining, and dancing. They had a commitment to volunteerism, their religion, making a contribution to their community and marveling at the technology of the day. They left a copious paper trail for me to unravel!
Family Portrait hanging in space, detail 96â€? x 96â€?, shred and woven family letters, 2013
Family Portrait is constructed of family letters, my mother’s knitting instructions
and my dad’s calendars. It is about the energy contained in the documents left behind, intra-family communications between all the members. Many of us have the paper trail of our family, and wonder how to preserve, protect and defend these precious items. Do we pass them on to our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews? Or do we send them to the shredder or burn them in a ritual pyre? In my case, it took me 10 years to begin going through my parents’ paper trail and making these decisions. So much went into the shredder. But there was one file of family letters from my mom and dad to each other, and to-and-from various family members. I sat down and read all of them. Mostly they were letters that I didn’t want to look at again. Many were sent in anger, asking forgiveness, making apologies, accusations, or elaborate justifications. With the exception of one very precious one from my father, which I kept intact, they were a riot of family drama, our own reality show! They had a lively energy, but they did not need to live on! My solution was to shred them and then use them to build something new, a woven wall full of love, tears, human flaws and a desire to do better. This wall is constructed of 64 11 x 11 inch squares, with the shredded letters woven together. The intention is to contain this energy, protect the confidentiality of my family members while transforming it all into order and pattern. The mark making and simple soft whites and off whites, and occasional black and red or stamped envelope provide a hint of color and a hint of the fiery emotions hidden here. Family Portrait 96” x 96” woven family letters 2013
Family Portrait dimensions variable, may be wall hung, in space or in scroll form
Protection I grew up in a family business, a prop house in Hollywood: Billy Woolf House of Motion Picture Accessories, on Gower street, near the Hollywood Cemetery. The prop house was a 10,000 square foot warehouse brimming from floor to 18 foot ceiling with what seemed like a magical, family-owned museum. It was surrounded by a fence made of wagon wheels. In addition, several items of furniture from our familyâ€™s home, such as our Chippendale dining set, often left home to appear in movies! In the prop house were early American and period antiques, silver tea sets, copper cookware, and Russian samovars.There were lighting fixtures, tableware, multi-era telephones, and objets dâ€™art. One table displayed framed photos of people, including my grandparents dressed in togas or as cowboys. They, like our family furniture, were extras in the movies!
Every wall was hung to the ceiling with oil paintings. Side chairs dangled from the rafters with giant iron â€œSâ€? hooks. There were also Navajo rugs, Kachina dolls and my favorite thing in the world: a Native American Breast Plate. Protection was inspired by this breast-plate that I played with as a child. When I put it on I felt something happen. Here, in this swirling prop-house world of movement, drama, and constant change, I felt the pleasure and weight of this garment that immediately grounded me and made me feel the strength of those people who had made it.Years later, I realized that I repetitively made art work which echoed this basic structure, something as natural and integral to me as breathing under the weight and delicacy of those quills.
Core Sample My mother was meticulous about her financial life. She was the bookkeeper for our family business, employing the double entry method. I remember her saying, “Damn, I’m off ten cents.” My father would come to her desk, put down a dime and say, “Here you go, now it’s fixed!” She would complain, “No I have to get this right-that won’t make my books balance.” He and I would laugh a lot. We thought being off ten cents was close enough.
Core Sample detail, 2014
After he passed, she balanced her personal checkbook religiously every month, penning each envelope with the beginning and ending dates of the statement, including a check mark indicating that this set of checks was balanced. Today we don’t even write checks anymore. If we do, the bank certainly doesn’t return them. They are a form of financial detritus, not a paper trail. Core Sample contains my mother’s bank and financial statements, checks, deposit slips, and check stubs cut into squares.
Core Sample in the studio 156” x 2” diameter checks, financial statements 2014
OCD but not Perfect 18” x 18” paper and waxed linen 2014 remade from Forest of Words 2009
Forest of Words, paper and journaling, 2009
OCD but not Perfect, 2014 18 x 18
This series began with the notion of large works that could be folded up like a Jacobâ€™s Ladder toy, and become small, wall-hung works or sculpture that could stack. My practice is usually to work very large, yet many collectors do not have room for large works. My idea is to contain very large work folded into a small container that could be compelling folded in on itself or expanded on the wall, hung in a variety of ways. Contained has three sub categories: Bundles, Cut Outs and Sewn
Bundles The tickets are a product of waiting in line at Gayle’s Bakery, after taking a number to be served. I told Gayle that I envisioned sewing a work entitled “ A Month at Gayle’s” I pictured asking her staff to collect the number tickets for a month for me, so I could then arrange in a pattern and sew together a giant paper quilt. “Do you know how many of these we use in one day? 1500. So if we saved the tickets for a month, we’d have to drive a mac truck of them to your studio,” Gayle replied! So this white piece is composed of several days or maybe even a weeks’ worth of tickets from Gayle’s marvelous bakery near Santa Cruz.
Bundle 4325, paper and waxed linen, 8.75 x 8.75 x 1.25, 2014
Bundle 4272, paper and waxed linen, 8.75 x 8.75 x 1.25, 2014
Bundle 4315, paper and waxed linen, 8.75 x 8.75 x 1.25, 2014
Bundle 4358, paper (encausticated) waxed linen, 8.75 x 8.75 x 1.25 remade from Yours, Mine and Ours, 2009 opposite page
Cut Outs These contained pieces with windows are a combination of my journaling, with windows inspired by the Israeli artist, Agam. When viewed from the side, you see one color, and from the other direction, gold. The work is made on Japanese stationery paper for calligraphy. I opened every other window to make the journaling dimensional.
Cut Out 4397 handwritten and painted paper 10.5 x 14 x 3 2014
Sewn These works are constructed of post cards from family road trips, business cards, paint samples and accounting paper. The zig-zag sewing connecting them makes regular patterns and colors, while sewn strips through the core of some of the pieces make unpredictable marks.
Sewn 8667 10 x 6 x 3 sewn paint samples 2013
Sewn 8577, accounting columnar paper, 11 x 8.5 x 1.5, 2013
Bound Bound began with a trip to Community Printers in Santa Cruz. Brian, my artist friend, and liaison there, was introducing me to “Mr. Guillotine.” This was an effort to save me and my hands from Xactoing up reams of financial documents to form the thirteen feet of 2 inch squares for Core Sample. While walking to the guillotine there were banks of printers, which had uniform trimmed strips of paper resembling spaghetti. “Can I have some of this?” I asked Brian. I am always on the lookout for long paper elements. I brought them to the studio and started binding them with sewing thread. The results resembled muscle fiber, primitive thatched boats, or tribal fetish pieces. I began to bundle them together, and then they truly looked like biceps, and muscles. Muscle Bound? 3 Bound works, paper, dimensions variable 2013
Some had subtle blue squares on them. Instead of binding these and obliterating the blue marks, I left segments open as they had beautiful marks that were scattered in a way that I couldn’t anticipate. Brian visited my studio, and started make regular “spaghetti” deliveries, which got increasingly bigger and bigger. Instead of separating the individual long strips out in my typical OCD fashion, I decided to spontaneously wrestle one enormous bundle. The results were these 5 to 9 foot long forms. What started out as a solution for one piece of work, morphed into an entire new series.
Bound 4121 detail, paper 33 x 3 diameter 2013
Awards Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship 2008 Gail Rich Award 2007 Collections Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Blue Cross of Southern California Sanctuary Resort and Spa, Phoenix Group Shows Paper Cuts 2011-present Faszination Papier-2011-2012 Germany Mini Textile Exhibition, 2011, Ukraine Paper Road, Hanjii Museum, Wonju South Korea 2010 Fiber Art International 2007 Lausanne Tapestry Biennale 1975
Many thanks to the following people for their brilliance: Kim Tyler Caryl St. Ama rr jones photography Gayle Ortiz Diane Ritch Brian Lorenz Wendy Aikin Judy Stabile Jenny Freedman Rose Sellery Shelby Graham Kyla Hansen Lynn Mizono Lisa Kokin
Author The Encaustic Studio 2012 Encaustic With a Textile Sensibility 2010 Paper in the â€˜Hood, SDA Journal, Winter 2011 Education M.A. Textile Structures. UCLA B.A. Studio Art, CSU Northridge
for more: www.daniellawoolf.com