May 2112:30 pm – 3:30 pm
May 2110 am – 1 pm
The time when syrener–that is, lilacs–bloom is as much beloved in Sweden as in Minnesota. It tends to happen a little later in Sweden–late May or early June.
Jag tycker att doften av syren är världens ljuvligaste. I think the scent of lilacs is the sweetest scent in the world.
I had such a wonderful time at ASI that I became a member! Thank you for the excellent programming you bring to our Twin Cities community!— ASI Member
I had such a wonderful time at ASI that I became a member! Thank you for the excellent programming you bring to our Twin Cities community!
A trip to Minneapolis isn't complete without a visit to ASI— CNN
A trip to Minneapolis isn't complete without a visit to ASI
2600 Park Ave
ANNA BRONES is a Swedish-American freelance writer based in Seattle. You might be familiar with two of her books, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break and Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way. When ASI reached out to Anna last October, it wasn’t her books we were interested in, rather her second passion, papercutting. ASI commissioned Brones to create a one-of-kind papercut featuring nine of the Turnblad Mansion kakelugnar (tiled stoves).
“I was really excited when ASI reached out to me, and with the suggestion that you had a large collection of kakelugns because I am often drawn to Scandinavian design and forms as inspiration in my work. It was really fun to figure out how to translate them into paper, and find certain details of each that would make them “pop” in the papercut graphics.”
Brones likes the simplicity of papercutting, from the materials to the nature of the artform. “All you need to make a papercut is a piece of paper and something to cut it with. That makes it an artform that’s pretty accessible to a lot of people.” And yet, also a challenge. “In my work, everything is connected, so the entire piece is made from one piece of paper. Once something is cut, it’s cut for good. There’s no erasing or going back, so you really have to commit to what you’re doing. And sometimes you just have to start over.”
Anna has been papercutting since 2013. Her first design was a birthday card for a friend using the supplies she had on hand – paper and an X-acto knife. Since then, Brones’ work has expanded to commissions and teaching others the artform.
Anna’s book Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way is available for purchase in the ASI Museum Store, both in-person and online.
Why papercut as your chosen medium? What appeals to you about it?
I like the simplicity of papercutting, from the materials to the nature of the artform. All you need to make a papercut is a piece of paper and something to cut it with. That makes it an artform that’s pretty accessible to a lot of people. I also love that it’s so graphic. Unlike a drawing or a painting when you might work with different colors, or shading, in papercutting you’re just working in positive and negative space. I really love working with that constraint because it challenges me to depict things in ways I might do differently if I was using a pencil or paintbrush.
How were you first introduced to papercutting?
I started on my own sometime around 2013 or 2014. At the time I was making a lot of earrings out of used bicycle tubes, and using an X-acto knife to cut them. I had to make a birthday card for someone and my supplies were sitting out, so I figured I could just cut something into a card. Since then of course it has been so interesting to dive into the history of papercutting and learn about papercutting artists around the world. I love seeing how differently people can interpret a piece of paper.
What is something the casual viewer of papercut art may not notice upon first viewing a work?
In my work, everything is connected, so the entire piece is made from one piece of paper. And then something to keep in mind when looking at a papercut is that when the artist is working, once something is cut, it’s cut for good. There’s no erasing or going back, so you really have to commit to what you’re doing. And sometimes you just have to start over.
Any insights you’d like to share with artists interested in getting into papercutting?
Just start! Most people have probably done some form of papercutting whether they know it or not. If you’ve ever made a paper snowflake you’ve done some papercutting! I cut with a blade instead of scissors, and I find that to be a lot easier for detailed work. Another great place to start is to find stencils, or simple black and white graphic illustrations to use as inspiration. And remember that while drawing skills certainly help for doing papercutting, it’s by no means a requirement. You can make really interesting pieces simply by repeating a geometric shape, like a triangle. And there is something special about working in paper: if you draw a stick figure, you might not be so impressed with yourself, but if you draw a stick figure and then cut it out, it looks far more interesting.
From following your IG, I notice you are an outdoor, year-around swimmer. How does swimming fit into your life and balance as a working artist?
I would say that cold water swimming has become an essential part of my creative process. Nature is a big source of inspiration for me, so being in nature every day in such a visceral way feels very special. It’s also really good for me mentally; it’s like having a reset every time I go in. My mind feels more clear after I swim. It has also been a way to create a very strong ritual out of gathering with fellow swimmers. Every Tuesday and Friday I gather with a small group of women to go for a swim. I think that ritual and routine are really important for the creative process, and the ritual and routine of that gathering carry over into the rest of my day when I sit down to do my work.
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