Sculptor Nancy Cohen’s first experience working with paper was as a participant in the Work Space program in 1993. She was drawn to the medium for both its fragility and strength, qualities which she also admires in clay and glass. She has since incorporated paper regularly into her work, making it a primary material for drawing, sculpture and installations.
During her Work Space residency she collaborated with Paul Wong to create cotton drawings with embedded objects in relief as well as free standing and wall based sculptures. She stretched laminated abaca over steel and wooden armatures to create translucent cage-like forms over the frames. Cohen was interested in the way paper acted as a skin both technically and metaphorically and was drawn to making work that walked the line between drawing and sculpture, merging both.
Cohen became especially interested in working with abaca and began using it as a covering for under structures of intimate assemblages that were primarily personal, domestic and feminine (i.e. wine glasses, kitchen utensils, perfume bottles, beads). Their colors and hidden surfaces were both obscured and revealed through the transparent abaca. Cohen’s enigmatic and abstract sculptures were meant to evoke a range of feelings, through references to human forms, experiences and relationships.
When working in handmade paper I can appear to defy gravity, incorporate light and exploit extreme imbalances in weight, all of this allows me to make literal the delicate, tenuous, ephemeral balance we all maintain. Working with handmade paper provides an implication of the body in the work—its touch and tenderness, its frailty and endurance.
Nancy Cohen received a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a MFA from Columbia University. Nancy has also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.