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L ook C losely:

Nikki McClure Presented

by

Stonington Gallery


LOOK CLOSELY: NIKKI MCCLURE SEPTEMBER 2014 Stonington Gallery

125 South Jackson St Seattle, WA 98104 Located in Historic Pioneer Square 206.405.4040 www.stoningtongallery.com art@stoningtongallery.com Open Daily

If you live in the Northwest, chances are high that you have seen Nikki McClure’s artwork before. Her monochrome papercuts illustrate many books, posters, and cards at shops across the region, and her yearly calendars artfully adorn walls just about everywhere. Her scenes depict vignettes of hard work, family bonds, and Northwest nature, often accompanied by a mantra-like word. However, it’s just as likely that you haven’t seen the original cut paper silhouettes from which those calendars are printed. And they are revelatory: McClure puts blade to paper and compositions of astonishing delicacy and complexity flow forth. A longtime resident of Olympia, WA, McClure uses the method of excising sections of black paper to reveal scenes of profound beauty, simplicity and strong emotion. It is a science of subtraction that produces strikingly different results depending on the thickness of lines, and angle of cutting. Stonington Gallery is proud to present our first exhibit of McClure’s original cut paper works this September.

Detail of “Mystery”, page 8/9


The Chance the Knife Offers:

Stonington Gallery Speaks with Nikki McClure Stonington Gallery: You have worked in cut paper for almost twenty years. Why choose paper and a blade as your media? McClure: A painter works with paint her whole life, a woodcarver with wood. I am a papercutter. I work with paper. It makes my brain feel good. I like the challenges of black and white. How to depict form and texture. The challenge of the paper. It is only so big, you can only cut so fine. I like the element of risk. I can’t redo a line once it is cut. Also what is often the focus is what has been cut away, it is nothing, it is space. You can poke your finger through it. It is low cost and accessible and I don’t need a big studio. It is also immediate. No need to work in reverse carving a woodblock and then printing. When I cut away, the line is right there in solid black.


Stonington Gallery: What is your process? What happens if you make a mistake? McClure: It takes me a week to cut, usually. LOVE (page 16) had me cutting pebbles for a few weeks. I draw and draw, look at pictures, re-enact motion and pose for photos, bring in samples of leaves and rocks and wings, then transfer the final drawing to black paper. I then start cutting. Take a break, take a walk. I work in the morning and a bit after lunch. Then I get my son at school and I am a mother and my creative thought turns to what to make for dinner. Stills from video on McClure by Matthew Clark, 2014. Left: McClure at her work table, drawing in pencil on black paper. Below, she begins to subtract black sections. Above: Completing the detail on a barn owl from her newest illustrated book, “May the Stars Drip Down�. Above, she lines up the silhouette against the original sketch.


McClure con’t:

Mistakes are embraced. Nothing is perfect. That moth has a torn wing, that grass nibbled by deer, the crow is missing a wing feather, I have a mosquito bite on my neck right now that itches like crazy. I like the chance that the knife offers. I am just trying to get the elemental line that makes that creature unique. I don’t need it to be complete, and it will never be perfect. Mistakes free me to attempt new things, to be more daring and free with my cutting. I can’t mess it up as it is already “messed up”. Now, I can just have fun and celebrate the imperfection and honor the imperfection in our world that in its attempts to be perfect has really messed it all up! There is no starting over. I just accept it and push forward. Making the best I can to honor the beauty of our world.


Image by Lisa Owen.


MYSTERY Cut Japanese Paper, Cut Paper, Framed 19” x 19” $2500


INTUIT Cut Paper, Framed 19” x 19” $2500


This year I thought a lot about the 15,000 years that people have been living along this coast, and how much change has happened in an ecologically short period of time. 15,000 summers. 100 summers of cars. 46 summers of my own life. I think about this a lot, especially approaching the shore from the water. You can transport back in time and imagine the shoreline, the beach 15,000 years ago. But then you are brought back to NOW as cormorants fly off the giant log marking the shoal, the channel markers, the Capitol dome, the Port of Olympia, the filled-in and dammed estuaries, and me in my aluminum boat with outboard motor and Pendleton jacket headed into town to the market so I don’t have to park another car in the parking lot. Then I just want to dive in the water and swim there followed by curious seals wondering if they too are remembering something that happened 15,000 years ago. -McClure

15,000 Years Later Cut Paper, Cut Japanese Paper, Framed 19� x 19� $2500


EQUAL Cut Paper, Framed 19” x 19” $2500


I was being interviewed by NPR and we were on the beach. It was winter, and the winter storms and high tides always expose a buried truck tire. Then it is covered up for another year. So, we just started digging it out right then and there. A drizzly gray February day, that tire, the beach, and us in the stream prying it out. And a microphone thrust at us every now and then. That tire had been down there maybe only forty winters…but it could have stayed there forever. We took care of it. No waiting to make amends. No waiting until the interview was done. No waiting for love.

LOVE Cut Watercolor Paper, Framed 19” x 19” $2500


Nettles poke up out of winter darkened leaves. Risk and faith nourishing hope.

DARE Cut Watercolor Paper, Framed 19� x 19� $2500


FINALLY RAVEN VISITS Cut Watercolor Paper, Framed 19” x 19” $1500


Stonington Gallery

Nikki McClure: Look Closely, Sept 2014 at Stonington Gallery  

New Works by Paper Artist Nikki McClure (c) 2014 Stonington Gallery

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