Birds on Paper: Mixed Media
My work often explores issues of human struggle and endeavor. Through layering and the use of scientific and technical imagery, I examine attempts at navigating, overcoming, and making sense of our experiences. Scientific imagery and technical diagrams become a metaphor in my work—the images of quantifying, analyzing, taking apart, and reassembling represent our investigating, organizing, and interpreting human experience. Instructional diagrams and technical charts lend themselves to this metaphor in that there is often a disparity between what is expected and what actually occurs.
Birds are the most common subject matter in my work of late. I’m attracted not only to their beautiful structure and poise, but also to their potential as metaphors for the human condition. I find that the layering of detailed drawing over book pages and found paper creates an intriguing interaction of the digitally produced and the handmade. The drawings on bills and other mail explores a common stressor (especially among creative people) of paying bills, managing finances, and sorting through the seemingly endless deluge of paperwork and junk mail. Furthermore, in a consumer and debt-based economy, an absurd amount of advertisements and credit offers come through our mail every day. In many of these drawings, I make a playful commentary on predatory businesses and the role of lending institutions in the financial collapse. Ultimately, I explore our struggles to exist within and to navigate through this absurdity.
Paula Swisher is a professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She holds an MFA in Painting from Clemson University and a BA in Art from Houghton College. Her work has been published in such places as DPI Magazine-Taiwan and Colossal and exhibited in multiple galleries. Using torn-out book pages, mail, and other found paper, she juxtaposes bird imagery, drawing directly on the paper.