Matthew Shlia Uses Paper to Create Colorful Spiked Sculptures

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One of the latest paper artists that amazed us with their skills is Matthew Shlia. This paper engineer combines his love for geometrics and tessellation with his talent for art in order to create intriguing spiked sculptures out of paper.

Shlia began working on a concept for his sculptures when he was an undergrad. After majoring in ceramics and print media, he started experimenting with paper folding, using different varieties of paper and combining multiple techniques until he got things right.

“My process is extremely varied from piece to piece,” he explains on his website. “Often I start without a clear goal in mind, working within a series of limitations. For example, on one piece I’ll only use curved folds or make my lines this length or that angle, etc. Other times I begin with an idea for movement and try to achieve that shape or form somehow. Along the way, something usually goes wrong, and a mistake becomes more interesting than the original idea, and I work with that instead. I’d say my starting point is curiosity; I have to make the work in order to understand it. If I can completely visualize my final result I have no reason to make it- I need to be surprised. “

When he was starting with his spiked paper sculptures, Shlia was working almost exclusively with white and gray paper. Now he started doing more colorful pieces, which brought a whole new dimension to his artworks.

Check out some of his pieces below.

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Unholy 38 (The Night Before the Cup Walked) 60” x 60” x 3” 2017 Paper This piece just sold and the buyer reached out to learn more about it- my response email below . The piece is part of my Unholy series (started in 2016). It is number 38- I'm currently working on 116. I am an artist but I work alongside a team of scientists here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The teams that I work with at the University of Michigan study subjects from self assembly on the nano scale, to protein folding (and mis-folding), to solar cell design. You can see a short talk I gave at the National Academy of Science (link in bio). The Unholy series grew from a series of conversations with a leading researcher on Alzheimers disease and memory loss. He was explaining how these protein stands mis-fold and cause other chains to misfold and create this aggregation of mass. He called it something like "this unholy hell of design". He described modular aggregate systems that become this undulating form. I had been working at the time on similar ideas in my studio. When he came to the studio he said "yup, this is it". I'm not great at naming work. Usually I hear a phrase or mishear something and write it down in a notebook. When a piece is done and seems to fit that name I just go with it. I have a 5 year old and she is easily the most creative person I've ever known. She's been talking non-stop since she was born and when she was 2 or 3 she would tell us stories all the time. One story began with "The night before the cup walked…" and then the cup proceeds to walk and walk and walk and…basically not too much happens in the story except a 3 year old keeps stringing you along waiting for something to happen. Over time she told it (she told it a lot) we would laugh because it would be filled with anticipation that something would happen, but not too much happens, except a subtle shift from tension to humor to delight. The piece felt the same way to me. At a glance, not too much happens, but if you spend time with it a subtle shift occurs both in the piece and in you. #shlian #paper #art

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