Prior to my residency at Dieu Donné, I used paper as the perfect blank – a found material both mutable and flexible enough for its qualities to disappear into the form of the work. Paper’s dual nature, both ephemeral and substantial, fit my purposes – a medium easily ruined or discarded, but with sturdy physical properties and a long history. These qualities allowed me to closely reproduce three-dimensional found objects, call into question the significance of an original, and emphasize the shift between original and reproduction.
I had been researching the Rorschach Test, and exploring possibilities with the ten standard ink blot patterns in the studio. Through pop culture, the images of the blots themselves have become a shorthand symbol of a psychological response. The history and use of the system as an ostensibly objective tool designed to test and categorize subjective psychological responses corresponds with my interest in the nature of perception. The emotional and objective ways in which color is analyzed and experienced parallels the test’s blend of subjectivity and categorization.
The standardized CMYK color model is also an objective system. By reproducing each blot in cyan, magenta, yellow and black separately, I was able to manipulate registration and alignment, and undermine the expectations of both the Rorschach and the CMYK structures. The papermaking process allowed me to begin my experimentation with the primary choices: the type of material and methods of manipulating pulp. Color was embedded in the paper, not applied to the surface. The form of each blot was shaped individually (not reproduced through printing or extracted from a larger sheet) – a technically complex process. The project would have never been possible without Artistic Director Paul Wong’s mastery and craftsmanship. My exposure to the work in the archive at Dieu Donné, and my experiences on the studio floor with Paul and Catherine Cox substantially expanded my conceptions of paper as a material.
— Sarah Kabot, 2009
Sarah Kabot was born in Troy, Michigan. She received a B.F.A. in Fiber and Ceramics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1998, and completed Cranbrook Academy of Art’s M.F.A. program in Fiber in 2002.