Carolina Illanes uses the most ephemeral medium of paper to capture the stone and steel of a city’s infrastructure. You may be thinking that she is a draughtsman or watercolorist. But no. She doesn’t draw or paint. Her work investigates cities, capturing iconic architectural features in delicate, even lace-like patterns cut with a razor blade – X-acto knives and box cutters. She is a master of folded paper techniques and creates wonderfully intricate wall and table sculptures from heavy, fine art paper that intrigue and captivate the eye.
She was first inspired by the architecture of her home city – Santiago Chile, and has come to Cleveland as part of the Fall 2013 Creative Fusion team of international artists, to find new inspiration in our city’s architecture, and to share her skills with others.
Carolina was hosted by the Center for Arts Engaged Learning (formerly, Young Audiences) where she worked with students at Metro Catholic High School to teach them techniques used in making pop-up books. She taught paper engineering to the education staff of the Cleveland Museum of Art and teaching artists from her host organization and worked with more than 400 Cleveland residents – children and adults, as part of the Art Museum’s Second Sunday Family Day in the Museum’s Grand Atrium. Carolina also had the benefit of working with a commercial laser cutter here to create new work.
In a joint exhibition of all Creative Fusion artists held in the Hanna Theater in PlayhouseSquare at the close of the fall residency, Carolina showed a life size paper representation of a wrought iron gate she found in her journeys around Cleveland. Rock solid when seen from the front, one gasps, when circling around, one encounters but a sheet of paper suspended in thin air. Quite, quite stunning.
Carolina, we miss your quick smile, your good humor and your magic tricks with paper.