Paper in Particular celebrates 30 years


The 30th annual exhibition, running through March 5 in the Larson Gallery, Columbia College campus, is your opportunity to see striking new works in that most ancient of mediums.

The 30th Annual Paper in Particular invitational exhibition, which began February 3 and runs through March 5 in the Larson Gallery on the Columbia College campus, is your opportunity to see striking new works in that most ancient of mediums: paper. Papyrus is first known to have been used in ancient Egypt at least as far back as the third millennium B.C.E; part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead was written on papyrus.

The exhibition, which draws prints, drawings, photographs, digital images, paintings and sculpture from all fifty states and overseas, has in the past featured works incorporating such diverse materials as dried radishes and dryer lint. Perhaps the most striking exhibit this year is a series of sketches of a crow in flight that cascade from floor to ceiling, called simply "Bird Screen II." Another piece shows two creatures with pig snouts applying lipstick from an overflowing basket of cosmetics as a wolf leers from a TV called, of course, "Big Bad Wolf."

The opening reception is Sunday, Feb. 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning Feb. 9, the exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Paper in Particular, mounted every year by the Columbia College Art department under the watchful eye of Ben Cameron, art professor, also is judged by an artist of national repute. This year's juror is John Hull, professor of painting and drawing and Chair of the Studio Art department at the College of Charleston, S.C. Hull has won four National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowships and the Thomas Benedict Clarke Prize for Painting from the National Academy of Design.

Cameron says that to the best of his knowledge, the show's concept is unique. Cameron helped launch the show, and now mounts it with student aid; one dedicated "gallery assistant" receives three credit hours. "But it's more than helping to mount a show," says Cameron. "Students also learn valuable skills like how to crate, uncrate and ship artwork; and are exposed to a wide variety of artwork. So it's really valuable from a learning perspective, too."

That dedicated student is Kaci Smart, a dean's list art student set to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in graphic design and minors in marketing and jewelry. Her job is to create the posters for the new exhibition, design the layout of the show in the gallery and lead a team in unpacking, hanging, and then repacking the art.

Smart says mounting the exhibit has been a lot of work, but that she loved working with Hull and being exposed to different art and artists from around the country. "Ben Cameron does a great job every year preparing for the show, and I wouldn't be able to do my job to the best of my abilities if I didn't have the support from other students who help hang the artwork: Amanda Flowers, Matt Underwood and Doug Weaver. This would be an extremely hard process without them. Working as a team makes this fun."

Cameron says fewer than 10 percent of the paper entries are selected and displayed in Larson Gallery. After the exhibit wraps, one artist's work is spotlighted in a solo exhibit, currently scheduled for fall 2010. One work will also be purchased for the Columbia College Art department’s permanent collection.

But more than educating art students and allowing the public a glimpse of innovative uses of an old medium, Cameron says he hopes the exhibit will inspire. "It's refreshing to see new art," he says. "It's always a lot of work, but I always enjoy it."

If a veteran artist enjoys and is thus inspired, think how enthused you may be.

Preview more works at the 2009 Paper in Particular Web site.