Maya Freelon's Immersive and Interactive Sculptures Bring Tissue Paper to Life

Maya Freelon's Immersive and Interactive Sculptures Bring Tissue Paper to Life

June 21, 2018 | Jacoba Urist, Smithsonian.com

For more than a decade, artist Maya Freelon has created striking abstract sculptures and installations from tissue paper and water stains. Her technique — letting water gently drip so the paper’s color bleeds organically — arose from happenstance, when, as an MFA student, she discovered a stack of old tissue paper in her grandmother’s basement.

Freelon’s assemblages reside in collections around the world, from U.S. Embassies in Madagascar, Swaziland, and Rome, to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This month, she’s installed a monumental, interactive tissue paper sculpture for the first annual By The People International Festival at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building. Named “Reciprocity Respite & Repass,” her artwork is one of a selection of immersive and interactive art installations at the AIB, the headquarters for the festival. By the People will also feature a series of workshops and talks with experts.