Meghan Fleming exhibit of handmade paper compositions opening Friday

An exhibit featuring works made solely of handmade paper created by artist Meghan Fleming will be on display starting Friday at Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center.

Fleming, a professor of visual arts at McNeese State University, said the idea for creating handmade paper first intrigued her about five years ago.

“I was really just experimenting with different ways of using the paper sculpturally and these forms started to arrive through that process,” Fleming said. “Then patterns started to emerge and after that the compositions happened.”

Fleming said she used fibers from an abaca plant — a cousin of the banana plant — to create the elements for her latest exhibit, “Fluctuations: An Installation of Handmade Paper.”

Fleming said the pulp can be pulled from the leaf using a mold and a framed screen, then the drained pulp is transferred onto a felt and from there she uses a hydrologic press to create a sheet of paper.

Fleming said she prefers working with wet sheets because it’s easier to construct them into various forms.

Before discovering this process, Fleming said she would cut out scraps of paper to create her drawings.

“I was using a full piece of paper, cutting out a shape and making a drawing through that and I found it to be really tedious,” she said. “And I began to wonder if there was a way rather than cutting out paper and creating negative space to actually start with the positive space.”

She said it takes a few hours to make and press about 50 sheets of wet paper.

“After the sheets are pressed, I cut them into strips and then I start to turn them into the forms that I want them to be,” she said. “I let them dry like that and glue them together.”

She said the title of the exhibit was inspired by the ebb and flow of tides and “things that come and go.”

“This exhibit has the theme of things that open and things that close and things that expand and things that contract,” she said. “I really didn’t know what the pieces would look like before I started making them; they emerged through the process of making.”

She said the exhibit, which will be on display through Oct 27, is made up of 14 pieces.

A meet and greet with the Fleming is set for 5:30-8 p.m. Friday.

Historic City Hall is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.

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