Chin Creative Projects is proud to present Alyx Harch at Same Day Cafe.

Alyx’s work edits and refines an idiosyncratic visual language that is rooted in painting. Her work is first and foremost gestural: lines become hieroglyphs which then somersault into paintings. Working across materials (wearable garments, handmade paper, and paper pulp images), her work is constantly referencing and digesting itself. Cotton garments birth paper sculptures made from cotton rag (a byproduct of clothing production). Though it’s not clear exactly what the works are whispering to one another, it’s evident they’re speaking the same language and vibrating together-- the pigment on Alyx’s handmade paper and the bleach on her cotton shirts are humming the same song.

Much of the content of Alyx’s paper sculptures manifests during its making, through her subtle maneuvering within the papermaking process.  The process involves a series of actions: softening, soaking, beating, deckling, scooping, draining, pressing, drying, that breakdown and separate fibers then fuse them back together.  Not unlike baking, the process is first very wet and then very dry, requiring dexterity and a sense of time.  Alyx’s paper sculptures emerge through her alteration of this traditional process.  Instead of adding pigment evenly to the paper pulp and mechanically containing it and drying it into a thinly pressed, uniform rectangle, she uses pigment expressively to define and activate the shapes that she pours out and allows to air dry.  The shapes are surprisingly thick and sturdy, reminiscent of casts freshly cut from limbs, rain-damp bark, orange peel, acrylic nails, they stretch, curl, sink inward and puff out with rhythmic asymmetry. The dynamism of the paper sculptures comes from a sort of easy integrity--like harmonic vibrations that echo the overtone series--the shapes ooze their pigments and the pigments create the shapes in a codependent relationship.  Unlike dye, which seeps through material, Alyx’s pigments cling to the paper pulp fibers, much like clothing clings to our skin. Thus the historical tension in painting between substrate and surface is eased as color is emancipated from the surface, and forms its own body, joints and seams.

Alyx’s paper sculptures were a product of her first forays into papermaking at Oxbow School of Art in Summer 2015.  They have remained an essential tool in her studio over the years, and have deeply informed her other works. They have served as punctuation amidst paintings and wearables in other exhibitions, but never before have they stood (darted, whispered, danced) as they do here, on their own.  Alyx continues to practice papermaking with her mentor Andrea Peterson at Hook Pottery Paper in LaPorte, IN. Alyx shows widely in the Chicagoland area, and will exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary art Detroit this March as part of their Pop Up Program.

By Sofia Macht and Liz Vitlin

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