Through my experience as a Workspace artist at Dieu Donné, I have been given unique access to develop new approaches to my practice. Until now my relationship to paper was that of the readymade – a given blank surface to mark or existing printed media to appropriate. Handling the assortment of global bill notes collaged into my “Neutral Capital” currency series, I began to observe the specific characteristics of the paper and how it held the printed image. Weight and texture, crispness or durability: these characteristics seemed to inform whether a country was in it for the long haul or whether an illustration was all surface, only skin deep. Alternatively, to get up close with the papermaking process – to feel paper pulp in its elementary forms of water and plant matter, was to delve much deeper into the substance of the matter. Getting my hands wet (literally) on the studio floor at Dieu Donné, noting the length of wet fiber in the cup of my palm, gave tactile cues into the very materiality of what had been mostly hidden in a one-dimensional substrate. The very object-ness of the paper seemed most important to me. My choice to make both the thickest (cast pulp into sculptural forms) and thinnest (watermarked sheets) may reflect that sensibility. Ultimately, I became emboldened and inspired with each attempt to try something else in the studio and push my original ideas into new forms. The papermaking process and all the knowledge and effort of each member of Dieu Donné formed a rewarding and delightful endeavour and was a huge boon for my work. I look forward to seeing how this experience will carry forward in my working process and the materials I choose to work with in the future.
—Peter Simensky, 2008
Peter Simensky received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley and MFA from CUNY Hunter College. He lives and works in New York.