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Marvel at Linda Emmerson's paper cutting

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 5:00 PM by Lilah Anderson

How did Linda Emmerson make this? Scissors? X-acto knife? Guess again, a scalpel and lots of technical prowess and patience! While the exhibition #WomenKnowStuffToo is currently closed, we still want to marvel at Emmerson’s Papercutting.

Created entirely of cut paper, the intricate image wavers between two and three dimensionalities, showing Morrill Hall at the center surrounded by works of art in the public art collection as well as a homage to artist Christian Petersen. 

Linda Emmerson gave a gallery chat last week where she delved into both the history of papercutting as well as her own growth as a fine artist. Emmerson, first encountered scherenschnitte, meaning literally ‘scissor cuts’, the German/Swiss art of papercutting, on a vacation to Switzerland. Although the origin of papercutting is the Chinese tradition, there are several countries with active papercutting traditions. It was several years later, after receiving a box with images of traditional scherenschnitte, that Emmerson attempted her first papercutting.

Emmerson begins by drawing out the design and cuts using a scalpel. Her early paper cuts were done with an xacto knife but she quickly switched when a relative who practiced medicine suggested a scalpel instead. These early papercuts were on tissue paper before Emmerson moved to other sturdier paper media like mulberry paper. While still respecting the traditional design features of scherenschnitte such as black paper on a white ground and featuring a larger central image surrounded by mirrored images on the edges, Emmerson makes the technique her own and produces works of art that reflect her own community. 

Papercutting was commissioned for the opening of the Christian Petersen Art Museum and when not on exhibition it can be found on display on the first floor of Morrill Hall. UM2008.570

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