Arctic Mountains, Svalbard Series (2015)
Cotton pulp in natural white.
Blane De St. Croix’s research-based practice incorporates on the ground site visits, aerial fly-overs, photographic documentation, interviews, internet mining, and satellite imagery to create art that investigates local and international social, political, environmental, and cultural climate challenges. He created distinct bodies of work while in residence at Dieu Donné that emulate natural phenomenon of snow using processes innate to pulp and papermaking.
The paper works were produced from on-site aerial and on-the-ground photographs shot in the Arctic’s Svalbard Archipelago. The series of low-relief modular wall works are based on these research trips to the Arctic Circle. Landscapes based on images and memory were re-created with a light, malleable, and waterproof material – to use as an armature for sheets of cotton pulp in natural white to emulate snow.
De St. Croix and master papermaker Lisa Switalski pulled large sheets of paper and almost immediately laid them over the armatures. Thick sheets of paper are usually left to drain and be pressed, as the strength of the sheet depends on how much water is in the pulp. Instead, the supersaturated sheets lost the integrity of a regular sheet of paper and collapsed around the armature as the pulp fell off of the paper screen, the movement emulating nature. In another twist on regular paper making, the works were air-dried quickly, rather than a slow restrained process. This intentional loosening of control led to more serendipity in the resulting pieces, creating rich surface textures and tears, allowing the natural state change of the material to direct the final work, from wet to dry.