Sedalia is the second venue for an exhibition of international paperclay sculpture opening this weekend at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Particle & Wave: PaperClay Illuminated” is organized by The International Paper Clay Exhibition Director and Founder Lorie Nelson and curated by Peter Held. It is sponsored by RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Denver, Colorado. The exhibition was shown at Arizona State University before coming to Sedalia.

It is showing in conjunction with a clay and fiber sculpture installation, “Rebecca Hutchinson: Tranquil Bloom Sedalia.” Daum Director and Curator Thomas Piche’ Jr. said “Particle & Wave” is the main exhibition for the museum which also includes a piece by Hutchinson.

Piche’ added the traveling exhibit features 45 artists from 10 countries and five continents.

“The uniting factor is ceramic, but it’s more than ceramic,” he said. “It’s paperclay. Which is defined as any clay body, it could be earthenware, stoneware or porcelain, and then you add cellulose fiber to that.”

To create paperclay, artists usually add paper-based material or fabric to the clay. Adding cellulose material has advantages, Piche’ noted.

“What that does is it gives a greater elasticity to the clay,” he explained. “The more added, the more things you can do with it. It dries more quickly, it fires more quickly, it resists shrinking and cracking. It has a lot of benefits.”


Evidence of the medium’s versatility can be seen in the exhibit. Artists are able to create extremely thin sheets with paperclay, which they would be unable to do with traditional clay. This advantage allows them to use the medium as small pieces to create a larger piece such a sheep created by Irish artist Susan O’Byrne or to use large thin sheets to create a 5-foot tall free-flowing sculpture as Hsu Yunghsu, of Taiwan, has done

“Getting really thin sheets of clay is one of the specialties (of paperclay),” Piche’ said. “Then this idea that it doesn’t crack is another important thing.”

The works in the show are hand-built with techniques used in creating traditional ceramics, although Piche’ said paperclay cannot be thrown.

“So, these are all hand-built, either coil or slab or extruded,” he said. “In the ceramic world, it’s a relatively new technique. This sort of work has had industrial applications and if you think of like adobe bricks that would have had hay added to the clay, it’s a similar idea.”

Piche said the technique began developing in the 1970s.

“In the 1970s when there was a lot of experimentation going on in a lot of things, ceramicists started experimenting with adding cellulose fiber to clay bodies,” he continued. “To see what they could do with it.

“I think one of the things that’s most interesting to me, is they are experimenting with the clay body and they’re also experimenting with forms,” he continued. “They are doing all kinds of techniques that are not typical.”

Piche’ added they decided to offer the exhibit because the museum has an interest in ceramics due to its large contemporary ceramic collection. He also said it would be worthwhile for students at State Fair Community College to see the exhibit.

“One of the things about paperclay, they are trying to get more people interested in exploring it,” he said. “It’s especially good for beginners because it’s more forgiving than other ceramics.”

“Particle & Wave: PaperClay Illuminated” opens Saturday, Oct. 12 and will show through Dec. 15 at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art at State Fair Community College. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 660-530-5888 or visit Admission is free.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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