Her name evokes light, bright, warm light to me, and when you see her AMAZING works, (yes, that is all in CAPS for a reason), you will feel the same light too: paper transformed into creatures and works that come alive, and feel like they can float away, tempting you to put your fingers on them, feel the fiber that encases them, and even wear them. Meet the one and only Joan Son.
I have had the privilege of giving 2 presentations with Joan Son and have been to her studio/residence several times in Houston, TX. Joan is a most gracious host. I cherish her warmth, kindness and years of friendship. Joan’s glowing personality is truly manifested in her incredible talent of transforming paper into life-like sculptures.
I hope you enjoy reading her perspective on paper as much as I did.
PCI: What kind of artwork do you do? What or who has influenced and inspired you?
JS: I am an artist working in the medium of paper based in the discipline of origami. For the past 21, years since my debut in the windows of Tiffany & Co. (Houston Galleria), I have devoted my career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art. My art has developed into finely crafted gift items for museum shops beginning at the Smithsonian in 1995; larger commissioned works for public and private venues and origami instruction nationally at Origami Conventions and in Houston at numerous educational facilities.
PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?
JS: I have always loved paper. My first love was designing paper doll dresses when I was 9 years old. So even my mother’s typing paper, lined school papers and tissue paper were attractive to me from very early on. I was totally intrigued making carnation like flowers with tissue paper. Even now when paper towels or napkins are on my grocery list I get excited wondering what patterns will be available. The commercial stuff is always changing.
PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? I’m so curious as you have such a literal hands-on approach.
JS: I like to say that paper is sculptable and forgiving. I love that about paper. It works into to all of my art pieces. It is much more durable that most folks think.
PCI: I love the choice of words “forgiving” and “durable”, it’s almost like you are describing an amazing person. Please share how we met.
JS: Your wonderful papers were represented by a commercial paper company (Clampitt Paper in Houston, TX). Their representative gave me your contact information and I have been passionate about your papers through all your evolutions. Since 1993 when I was working in a design firm, creating brochures, annual reports… and dabbling in my own creative process, I’ve been using them for everything from butterfly pins, collage works, to 8-foot tall paper Kimonos.
PCI: Hopefully I’ve been evolving in a progressive way! And our papers reflect that. We are so happy that we have such a long-term solid relationship. It’s reliable artists like yourself that help small business keep going. Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our line?
JS: Very, very little… only Origami papers.
PCI: In what ways did Paper Connection help navigate and perhaps inform you about Japanese paper?
JS: In every way. You and I did a presentation together for Texas Art Supply here in Houston a few years ago. It was fascinating to see and hear about your travels in Asia and all the details and nuances of these exquisite papers.
PCI: What papers do you use of ours and for what process? What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process?
JS: Japanese Yuzen and Katazome paper are delicious, the Laurelai design papers, (see the Yoga Garden Robe), are fun and add a distinct personality to my designs. Looking through the catalog now I see there are so many more I still have to work with. I can hardly wait! I use your papers for many of my collage pieces, origami pieces and display.
PCI: What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?
JS: Paper Connection always has the highest quality papers.
PCI: Thank you so much! We really try to represent the best in handmade papers for those like yourself who truly appreciate them. Word game for you: fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application:
JS: I like Daitoku papers for their simple gold touches and natural beauty. Plus they have saved my life on two projects where I needed a very large sheet. These measure 37 x 72 inches. Perfect!
PCI: That paper is an oldie but goodie. Our famous bonus question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? And would you talk about paper?
JS: PATTI SMITH. As I strive to make my work more deeply meaningful first to myself and that it be illuminating for others… this veteran rock and roll artist transcends all levels for me. She continues to inform our world with her tenderness and fury. And that she continues to evolve her art into all the years of her life. I think the conversation of paper would come up easily with Patti. I’m sure we would be tearing it or making it into butterflies right away.
PCI: Yes! A musician! To say the least. A poet. You surely would. Can I dance along? Thank you Joan, for all you do for Paper Connection and the paper world.
Check out this BIG NEWS for Joan! She opens a new body of work in Houston at the Jung Center Gallery in April 2014. We have included the Press Release:
When: Opening night Saturday April 5, 2014
Where: Jung Center Gallery
5200 Montrose, Houston, Texas 77006
Time: 5:00 to 7:00
On view through April 29, 2014
If you are in the Houston we highly recommend you attend. We wish we could be there ourselves.
Joan Son is an American artist who has devoted her career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art.
Joan raised additional funds through her Kickstarter campaign and may be best known for her origami art that debuted in the windows of Tiffany & Co. in 1993. During the past 21 years she has developed her art as gift pieces for museum shops around the country beginning with the Smithsonian in 1995, been commissioned for larger art works both public and private and worked as an instructor of origami nationally and locally.
For more information on Joan Son, please visit her website: www.joanson.com