Works in Cut Paper

Artist Statement: Ingrid A. Erickson

365 days/300 feet of paper/108 X-acto blades/20 cups of pencil shavings/26 raptors/1 Regional Artist Project Grant


My work spans the intersection of art and science through the investigation of specific species and ecosystems.  Each piece is individually hand cut using an x-acto knife and scissors, with up to several thousand individual cuts per piece, and color is added after cutting is complete, with layers of light-fast acrylic spray paint. 

When I moved to Asia in 2003, I was suddenly a printmaker without a press.  I fell in love with the art of cut paper when I taught English and art in Changsha, then a city of six million people in southern China (capital of Hunan Province), and later in a village in rural northern Thailand where it took me half an hour by bicycle though the banana fields to get to my classroom.  I have carried a woodblock printing aesthetic, with its strong reliance on positive and negative space into my current work.

My interest in a monochromatic color palette began in Asia.  The dazzlingly golden Thai temples at dawn and dusk, when even the air itself seems permeated by gold, and the green monsoon skies when sky and lush vegetation seemed united in an aura of intense green, led me to begin a series of small monochromatic watercolor paintings.  The large paper that I prefer was not easy to travel with in such a wet climate and cutting knives seemed inadvisable in border crossings, so I focused on a variety of small studies during this period.  These paintings and sketches became part of the germ that inspired successive bodies of work.

My project research at the Carolina Raptor Center where I was a guest artist from January - December 2015, included sketching and photographing resident birds, access to x-ray images from the Jim Arthur Raptor Medical Center, observing live birds and training flights, examining feathers, wings, and frozen specimens, and the use of veterinary and ornithology textbooks.  I also completed preliminary research for my Raptor Project during the past year in the Bird Collection at the NC State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, where I photographed and sketched in-articulated skeletons of various species of eagles, hawks, and owls.

There is something magical about working on a large scale.  As a recipient of a 2015 North Carolina Arts and Science Council Regional Artist Project Grant, I received (6) fifty foot rolls of archival paper to create this series of large scale paper cuts.  This grant allowed me to create my largest scale works in cut paper to date.  During the grant year, I created works ranging in size from 7.5 feet x 4 feet to 5 feet x 4 feet featuring some of the approximately 25 species of raptors currently being rehabilitated at the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville.  This project was made possible by the generous support of the Arts and Science Council and The Carolina Raptor Center.