SEMBLANCES OF PLACE
CONCORD CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS
37 LEXINGTON ROAD
JANUARY 11 THROUGH FEBRUARY 10
by Lisa Mikulski
A closer look at Betsy Silverman’s work reveals more than what you think you see. This Massachusetts artist creates highly detailed and beautifully vibrant scenes of Boston using only carefully selected and assembled pieces of paper cut from recycled magazines. Not a single brush stroke of paint, nor a hand-drawn line from a pen, exists here.
The selections of paper Silverman uses to build these cityscapes are based not only upon elements of color, hue, texture and quality, but also for the individual text and content which allow her to create a multilayered visual story. It is an exercise in delight for one’s eye to explore her work and discover what lays in wait there — the red seating from Fenway becomes part of the city park’s summer leaves; Tom Brady’s jersey is now the reflection for a car window. There are famous faces, subway maps, lobsters, penguins, contextual phrases and so much more. One only needs to look, and I remain convinced that examining Silverman’s work will provide surprises for years to come.
Having earned a master’s degree in architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Silverman began working with paper and found it to be a versatile medium for representing structural concepts.
“I became particularly fascinated by the implications of the use of building materials, not solely from a design or aesthetic consideration, but from an environmental and moral consideration,” she said. “I was drawn to the efforts of the architect Shigeru Ban to create affordable, environmentally conscious designs for earthquake victims using paper tubes. My Master’s thesis project involved finding ways to fold and manipulate paper to discover its strengths, and how it could be used to define space. I built columns, floor pieces, and lattice roofs that played with paper’s translucent characteristics and the beautiful shadows it can cast.”