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Islip Art Museum


Cut Ups curated by Karen Shaw

That ubiquitous "everyman" tool – paper – folds and snips and burns its way into the geography of Islip Art Museum in curator Karen Shaw's exhibition, Cut Ups. Selected artists use a variety of means to address the medium, offering works that are sculptural and crafted, cerebral and iconic, intricate and elaborate.

With a keen eye for design and a knack for rendering big game in 3-dimensions, Christophe Roberts transforms piles of Nike shoe boxes into ferocious tigers and loping orangutans that exude both a comic fearsomeness and a large dose of joie de vivre. Using little more than recycled cardboard, scissors and glue, this Chicago artist brings the pages of National Geographic (emphasis on the "graphic") to life. Here, Roberts' approach to sculpting a paper tiger (pun intended, courtesy of Ms. Shaw) is a feisty combination that is one part Ringling Brothers and another part R. J. Cunninghame (Teddy Roosevelt's favorite big game hunter). One after another, Roberts scales these large animal anatomies with deft and drama. Birds soar, lions pounce and hulking trophy heads loom over fireplace mantles.

Christophe Roberts

At the other end of the spectrum but with no less conceptual duality, Hunter Stabler's layered cutouts are a triumph of precision that links religious philosophy to mysticism, medieval Islam, World War and Medusa, all inside one brain. Stabler's intricate works are hand cut – no laser templates here – and then layered across tiers of Plexiglas which results in some subtle obfuscation of the imagery. The deeper the tier, the foggier each layer of lacy imagery appears. I'm guessing Stabler's philosophical bent is at least as complex as his delicate mandala shapes.

Hunter Stabler

Clearly, too much is never enough for Aric Obrosey, whose depictions of the warrior's gauntlet are ephemeral and concentrated at the same time, like elaborate nests of spun sugar. Here, he crafts an ode to the glove with breathtaking craftsmanship. Celebrating the structure and opulence of the knighted warrior, he draws attention to that fragile mortal coil punctuated through the act of battle. On an opposite wall, Jin Lee's White Landscape is a fanciful mélange of marine species (of both the animal and vegetable varieties) that commingle with swirls of lines and biomorphic contours. Like an immense ornamental doily, Lee's oceanic universe is teeming with growth and otherworldly intricacies.

Aric Obrosey

For Jolynn Krystosek and Merle Temkin, nature provides the springboard for works that embody recognizable organic form while redefining it at the same time. In Krystosek's layered paper scrolls, gossamer plant forms descend from above, their leaf shapes and tendrils falling as if from the spine of a book. For Temkin, the natural world fuels homage to the formal beauty of the mighty tree in its many incarnations.

Jolynn Krystosek

Merle Temkin

Rebecca Hutchinson's handmade paper forms hover mid-air like errant plant forms falling from an unnatural forest ceiling. A ceramic and textile artist, Hutchinson fashions paper florets and webbed lines of coated sisal that coalesce into poetic columns and grids. The looped and angled paper slices in the work of Allie Rex are assembled in layers that suggest skeins of automatic writing or elegant graffiti strips. Her patterns bounce between the sweeping directional arrows she pins to the wall to a kind of chaos-geometry shaped by bursting colors and explosive pictorial energy.

Rebecca Hutchinson

Allie Rex

Similarly, Raymond Saa slices up his drawings and reassembles them in shingled collages and textured surfaces. The loose grid that functions as a formal device is recapitulated by an eye-popping sense of movement and syncopation. With wildly different results, Soo Kim also slices into imagery to introduce visual rejoinders that provide playful commentary and interaction in a sort of double-blind visual transaction.

Raymond Saa

Soo Kim

But reductive imagery meets its apotheosis in Donna Ruff's Dream Series. As in much of her art, in this series she burns elaborate decorative patterns deep into the pages of a book, in this case, Symbolism in Dreams. The yellowed book pages, opened side by side, have the appearance of a Rorschach, with mirror image burns connected at a center spine. The effect is hypnotic and deeply seductive, suggesting psychological depths that range from pyromania to wakefulness to dreamscapes and mysticism.

Donna Ruff Dream Series: Symbolism in Dreams

Review by Janet Goleas, East Hampton