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ADVANCING THE ARTS ACROSS MARYLAND

Rosa Leff

Rosa Leff

Artist Work

Baked
2018
Hand Cut Paper
8x10"
Honest Lou's
2018
Hand Cut Paper
16x20"
Rain in Tel Aviv
2018
Hand Cut Paper
16x20"
Race Street
2018
Hand Cut Paper
16x20"
Get By
2016
Hand Cut Paper
16x20"
Fresh
2018
Hand Cut Paper
8x10"

Artist Information

County
Montgomery County
Phone
8023779111
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

Artist Statement

In the few years that I have been papercutting I have explored a variety of subjects including comic art, etchings, photographs, and more. What has unified them all is the use of shadow. When people think of papercutting, they most often think of silhouettes. However, my cuts often take between 80-100 hours to complete because of the level of detail. In an effort to highlight the fact that the lacey cuts are created by painstakingly cutting millions of tiny holes, I have recently begun using hand dyed papers as backgrounds. The variation in their color helps to emphasize the fact that every line of the cut is connected to another. I love working in a medium that has manifested itself so differently in countries all over the world including Mexican papel picado, German scherenschnitte, Chinese jianzhi and more. My most recent body of work has focused on urban landscapes. By using a traditional medium and bringing busy landscapes down to two colors, I am able to control my viewers’ focus. Cities are often portrayed as busy and sometimes even overwhelming, however, the apparent simplicity of papercutting allows you to fully process all of the details of a city block. These works can also be viewed as autobiographical. “Honest Lou’s” depicts a particularly flashy exterminator’s supply store in Mantua, Philadelphia, where my mother and I would wait for the bus when I was a kid. The intersection of Kensington & Allegheny is best known for being the ‘Heroin Capital of the East Coast.” I chose to cut it because it was where I waited for the train each day after teaching for the School District of Philadelphia. All of the cuts in this series have special meaning for me because they remind me of my daily life at a given time. For me, it is those singularly unspectacular moments and experiences that define a life. The fact that these cuts are so mundane is what makes them so relatable. The ordinary is comforting. Routines keep us focused. There is a beauty in these things that I hope to capture when I cut. “Sarcone’s” is a famous bakery in South Philadelphia, but when I think about getting fresh bread with my dad as a child, the details are fuzzy. What I do remember is seeing the sign from blocks away as we approached. I think about narrow streets and powerlines. So, when I decided to cut the landmark, I knew that it needed to be cut as I remember it, not as it stands. The focus on powerlines speaks to the fact that we spend much of our early childhood looking up, both literally and metaphorically. Just as we often fail to acknowledge the significance of these moments as we live them, my style of papercutting tricks viewers into believing that they are seeing something entirely different, such as a print. It requires a second look to see that the paper has been carefully carved and made to reveal only what I want you to see.

Artist Bio

All of my work is cut by hand, from a single sheet of paper, using an X-Acto knife.  I never make prints of my work, and I never cut the same image twice.  My source imagery includes comic illustrations, original drawings, original photographs and more.