Q&A with Riley Manion

Riley Manion is a senior in the American Studies and Anthropology of Food programs at Indiana University.  She will be leading a papercut workshop at the IU Art Museum on Sunday, April 1, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m to help kick off IU Arts Week Everywhere.  Participants in the papercut workshop will be able to create their own artwork to take home and share with family and friends.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: When and how did you discover the art of papercutting?

MANION: I have always been attracted to high contrast black and white images. In the early 2000s, as film processing became more expensive and less common I strayed from photography a bit and started experimenting with other art forms. I loved old silhouette portraits and old political posters that were woodcuts or lithographs, and especially the art of Nikki McClure. Her papercuts were stunning to me and inspired me to really study them to figure out how they worked, then try to make my own.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Where do you typically do your work?

MANION: At home on a big table. Papercutting isn’t a travel-friendly art, unless a large sturdy surface is where you are going. It also produces a shower of tiny pieces of paper, which isn’t the best thing to leave behind in a coffee shop.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Who and what inspires you when creating papercuts?

MANION: My inspiration tends to be seasonal. For five years, I have made a Halloween papercut inspired by vintage Halloween styles. I am most motivated to create a papercut for an individual, where the purpose of the gift and the person’s personality will lead to a design just for them. This summer I am going to create a series about food to complement my studies at IU.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: How important is the subject matter to your artwork?

MANION: Very. What I design in papercuts often reflects what I feel is important to think about, and what I find aesthetically pleasing. Oftentimes they are made to create memories, like photographs do so well.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Is papercutting easy enough for most people to execute?

MANION: Yes. The hardest part is understanding the positive and negative space. As long as you can cut paper with a knife, you are on your way to being a paper cutter!

While at the papercut workshop, be sure to visit the museum’s special installation of papercuts by Professor Qiao Xiaoguang in the second floor Gallery of the Art of Asia and the Ancient Western World.  Docents will be leading tours every 15 minutes from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Check out one of Manion’s favorite papercut creations!


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