In this particular project, students were asked to convey personal stories and were given the option of incorporating fairytale stories that influenced each of one’s childhood through cutting on black or white paper. Since we had to work only with black or white paper, this was a project to really focus on utilizing the values and the movement to tell a story. Moreover, creating contrast between the positive and negative space was also a huge takeaway from this paper-cutting project.
The process of making this art was fairly straight forward; it looked something like this:
First, everyone developed a final plan, keeping in mind that what’s on the final plan is what goes on the black people which is being cut. In this stage, it was very important to notify the parts that are being cut and parts that are being left by shading them. Then, we copied our final plan on to the black paper. After the drawing was complete on the black paper, we finally started cutting.
Eventually, my actual studio piece ended up looking differently than you had envisioned in my final plan. This was because showing emphasis or making a clear focal point was harder than I thought it would be without the usage of color. The emphasis in my piece was Alice throughout the whole planning process. First, I tried to show emphasis, using only the scale in my final plan; however, I realized that the emphasis was not very clearly conveyed only by differentiating the scale of Alice not long after. This was what prompted me to incorporate other elements such as contrast of negative and positive space (black and white) and movement. To make Alice stand out, everything else had to have a lot of details in them while Alice was the only one shown as a silhouette.
I definitely challenged myself to try out new ideas and techniques in this project. One of the most apparent difference between this paper-cut piece and my previous art work is that this particular piece is asymmetrical—the diagonal line, or the tunnel, breaks the repetition and balance on both sides of the walls—while the artwork I have done before were all symmetrical. I have also applied myself fully to making my best possible work. This can be seen in the idea development process and my final plan. I carefully planned the composition, imagery and the symbolism used in the piece. Furthermore, I developed several final plans, trying to make my best possible work. I was very focused in all the classes, and I stayed after school very frequently to finish up my cutting. Looking at my completed work, I think I have grown and matured as an artist because I am now able to show contrast and emphasis without using any color, and only with black and white. Moreover, I am now more comfortable with making mistakes. Since it was very easy to make irrevocable changes in this artwork, I had to get used to making mistakes and trying not to make those mistakes seem like mistakes.
ENGAGE AND PERSIST
In this particular project, I did pretty well in engaging and persisting. I acknowledged the importance of personal stories and how it can really evoke special moods in the audience, making a strong connection between the story told in the artwork and themselves. Furthermore, the sharing of personal stories through art made me more comfortable about talking about myself and the stories of my life. It was very embarrassing for me to share how I was confused and I didn’t fit in as well I thought I would have fit when I first came to China—when I was in elementary school. However, it was always something I wanted to tell other people who are having a hard time getting used to a new life in a new place. Recalling the memories of my childhood, I decided I would share my story through this particular project. The first thing that instantly came in to my mind when I tried to find a connection between my story and a fairytale story was Alice in Wonderland. It was one of my favorite stories when I was young. This is why I decided to incorporate Alice in Wonderland and my personal story to create “Alice in China”. I worked very hard during classes to stay focused and stayed after school very frequently to finish my piece.
Express was also a very big part of this paper-cutting project. Since we had to use personal and original ideas or stories, we had to learn how to express ourselves. As stated above, my piece was about the first time I came to China. It contains my confusion and my fears of going in to a Wonderland of my own, China. Everything was very puzzling and explicable, especially because I was young and I didn’t know much about China and my identity. A lot of symbolism was used, Alice represented myself, Wonderland being China, the rabbit being my parents who led me to China because of their jobs and finally, the surrounding traditional fans and commonly seen flowers that represent China—lotuses. I was able to extend and make sure every element I am using was necessary in the piece.