Erica Spitzer Rasmussen
Sculptural Approaches to Handmade Paper
In this five day workshop, participants will explore methods of manipulating paper into three dimensional forms. With the assistance of prefabricated molds and hand constructed armatures, students will produce numerous sculptural and expressive objects. Low shrinkage fibers will be used in conjunction with the following techniques: sheet lamination, pulp pouring, and pulp casting. Surfacing and finishing techniques will be addressed as well.
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen is an artist who creates mixed media and handmade paper garments. She received her BFA (1990) and MFA (1997) at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), which included her coursework in Mexico and Greece. From 1997 to 1998, Rasmussen acted as the paper artist-in-residence at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She was awarded an Artist’s Assistance Fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board in 1999 to pursue sculptural work constructed of non-traditional/non-archival media. Her current work explores issues of identity and corporeality, often utilizing clothing as a metaphor for one’s skin. Her work has been featured on the pages of FiberArts, Surface Design, American Craft, Hand Papermaking, Craft Arts International, and Spin-Off magazine. Rasmussen teaches studio arts as an associate professor at Metropolitan State University (St. Paul, Minnesota). Her sculptural and wearable works are exhibited internationally.
When I was a little girl, a family member told me that eating tomatoes would make me “big, strong, and hairy chested.” I avoided eating tomatoes for twenty years.
As a general rule, my sculptural work is inspired by childhood myths or adult anxieties regarding my body. Like my childhood association between the consumption of tomatoes and the growth of chest hair, I sometimes find body-stories or body-experiences to be simultaneously comical and horrifying. It is often these extremes in emotional reactions that drive me to produce the work, in an attempt to better comprehend each situation.
Recently, the parameter of my work has expanded to include the well being of loved ones. Coping with familial illness and motherhood has altered my outlook on the world and my responsibilities in life.
I use clothing as subject matter because it provides me a ground on which to investigate identity and corporeality. My garments are metaphors. They can encompass narrative qualities, illustrate and dissolve bodily fears, or act as talismanic devices.
In addition to utilizing handmade paper, I often incorporate non-archival media into my work. I derive great joy from transforming everyday materials into something personal, meaningful and beautiful. When I see tomato paste, dog hair, sausage casings, spent tea bags, or dried fish skins, I envision a work that may be transitory in nature, but rich in surfaces.