Sarah Brown of Questionable Press Will Display 1,529 Paper Fish at Arts West

Posted on:

< < Back to

Artist Sarah Brown of Lancaster’s Questionable Press has handcrafted a school of 1,529 paper bluegill that are currently in a state of inertia pinned to the walls of Arts West (132 West State Street, Athens). The exhibition, fittingly entitled “Questionable Press Presents 1,529 Paper Fish,” consists of exactly that many paper fish sculptures, which Brown designed and crafted with her 1958 printing press.

“I use traditional processes to make work that I sell commercially. (…) I use these processes in a way that results in work that definitely could be in a limited run and framed and hung in gallery. I have a big, fully automated press, a beast of a machine that was used for long runs of small things,” said Brown in an interview with WOUB a few days before the exhibition opens on Thursday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m. “This fish is from a kit I sell that comes flat and that people can just press out of the paper and stick together. I wanted to make about 1,500 of them to hang on the wall, and I made 1,529 because I didn’t want to imply that they are from a limited edition run.”

Brown said that as far as she knows, she is the only contemporary artist making paper kits that are like the ones that she has designed and that are available on Questionable Press’s website. The processes that Brown utilizes to make her art are vintage, dating back to techniques that were largely used starting around the 1850s and into the middle of the last century.

“I make a paper form of the sculpture that I flatten down and transfer that onto a block. To use it for the fish I draw on the block, I transfer the shape of the fish onto the block, and I carve out all the space I want to be white, and I print it and I order a die — it is almost like cookie cutter — and that cuts the paper, I put it in my press and it cuts the paper,” she said. “Then the paper is cut out and it hangs in there, it just like sits in the original piece of paper, so you push it out. I make them simple enough that everyone can make them, I always say they’re for people ages six and up. These are processes that are used for fine art, so I’m playing with the concept.”

Brown’s exhibition will open with an event that will take place Thursday, April 4, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will feature light refreshments and music. The exhibition will be on display through Thursday, April 25.