Cecilia Levy creates sculptures, objects, and installations, using paper from old books. Her work material often reveals traces from the passage of time as well as marks from previous readers. These ‘used’ elements all contribute to the expression of her final paper objects: three-dimensional sculptures merging different stories while creating their own narrative.
Cecilia Levy: Formerly a graphic designer and bookbinder, I realized years ago that I am a maker at heart that needs to work with physical materials. Facing a solo exhibition in 2010, experiments started with book pages and papier maché technique in 2009. The first attempt was a bowl that turned out quite wobbly, but I felt the immediate need to pursue this path. It’s still an ongoing investigation.
Cecilia Levy: My pieces take on different forms, either using everyday-objects found at home or sculpting forms in clay which are then cast to make silicone moulds. I use text fragments to create patterns or use only the margins of the book to create monochromatic pieces. The results are delicate, eggshell-thin objects. An interesting contradiction occurs in the expression of the piece when depicted in the paper.
Cecilia Levy: Old book paper is a fragile and delicate material. It carries several narratives at the same time, both in the content itself and by the passing of time, for instance where light and age have turned the edges of the paper brittle and brown. My works are also about this, they reflect my inner stories and memories. They are about the passing of time and fragility of life.
Creative Process and Challenges
Cecilia Levy: An idea comes to mind, then the search for the right paper quality in my collection of old books. The chosen book is then taken apart and, depending on the object, the paper is torn, cut or shredded. The technique used is basically papier maché, placing layers of paper covered in wheatpaste in or on a mould. When dry, the paper form can be lifted off and worked upon. The book is recreated in a way but takes on a new form. The content of the book is taken into account in the piece somehow, but not always visible.
Cecilia Levy: Working in non-precious materials allows me to fail which is extremely important. My work process is slow, it can’t be rushed and I often start over if I’m not satisfied with the outcome. The main challenge, but also the beauty of it is, that working with paper you never know exactly how it will react. Some papers are cooperative, others refuse to be compliant. When wet, the fibers in the paper expand and thus, when drying, they can shrink or wrinkle in unpredictable ways. It’s a constant process of trial and error.
Interview with Cecilia Levy | Photography Alvaro Campo.