Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Leo Monahan - Collage Artist and Paper Sculptor

One of the artists that I had the pleasure of visiting on the Weaverville Art Safari was Leo Monahan.  His beautiful home is nestled amongst the clouds overlooking his neighbors in the town of Barnardsville.  When we arrived at his studio, a "How you doin'" mat greeted us at the entrance.  When you enter Monahan's studio, you are instantly greeted by his intricate and mesmerizing paper creations.  Each piece is carefully and skillfully cut by hand.  Monahan draws with his blade; he does not sketch out his pieces on paper before he cuts them.  I asked him how he learned to create the complicated geometric shapes his pieces.  He replied that he taught himself, experimenting and cutting the paper to bring his pieces to life.  Using a scrap piece of two-ply Strathmore paper, he demonstrated how he cuts folds into the paper and bends it to give it shape.  He just made it look so easy.

Leo Monahan

Monahan shared with his visitors that day that there are basically four things you can do to paper.  You can cut it, bend it, fold it, and paint it.  He does it all.  To see samples of his amazing portfolio, click here or here.  To hear an interview with Monahan, click here (Thanks, Lynn!).

Monahan received the first Walt Disney art honor scholarship, allowing him to study fine art at the Chouinard Art Institute.  And although he received formal training in the arts, he is a self taught paper sculptor.  When he began his career as a paper sculptor 35 years ago, not many people were doing the work he continues to do today.  This has made his work rare, special, and in-demand.  He honed his craft over the years, earning numerous professional accolades.  He was recognized by the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles for his work and received a life time achievement award.

With such an established career, some may be intimidated by Monahan's accomplishments.  However, he was very approachable.  He was such a delight to speak with, so friendly and so welcoming.  On my way out of his studio, he gave me a poster of one of his creations and gave me some invaluable materials regarding the concept of creativity and the idea of the collage as a metaphor for change.  He was just so supportive and willing to share so much.

He truly was an inspiration to meet.

A Gift from Leo Monahan

"Personal self-satisfaction is the death of the artist.  
Collective self-satisfaction is the death of art.  
It is the restlessness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, 
and agony of the mind that nourish art." 
- Jacques-Lucien Monod

1 comment:

  1. We had a similar experience at his studio. Leo is a treasure, a master in our midst.



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