John Babcock

United States

I talk about my work as a documentation of feeling, emotional responses to an idea. I take in and reflect on earth’s patterns, the beat of the music in the studio, or the ripples in the sand at the ocean’s edge. When working on the concept for a piece, I work to explore that feeling and get to the essence of the idea. I like the act of making paper, the building of the medium from cellulose and water. As in nature, pulp preparation also has a rhythm and pattern, demonstrated in spiraling clouds of fiber mixing in the beaters. The building process, the making of the pulp and pulling of the sheets are seductive and become part of the song. Rhythm plays an important part in my work.  I hammer kozo pulp to the cadence of the music and thus the medium becomes part of the story. Every picture is a story, every story is a song, and every song has a rhythm. 

Hōkūle’a is my tribute to the ancient sailors of the South Pacific. They brought paper mulberry trees (kozo) to Tahiti, Fiji, and Hawaii. These islanders sailed vast distances in their double hulled canoes guided only by the sun, stars and waves. Paper mulberry is the source for making tapa cloth which had great social importance for them. Hōkūle’a is the Hawaiian name for the bright star Arcturus that the sailors used for guidance in their voyages. The kozo paper in this work has been beaten by my own hand, pigmented and poured into large sheets and cut into a pattern to convey a sense of ocean and time.

Crying  Lullabies  to Venus, an exploration to portray the emotion of love.  Like pages of a book, with colors cold and warm, for each page much is the same but always different and it creates a rhythm, like a song, like a heartbeat. Poured, cast, pigmented paper consisting of 25 hinged panels with kake gami lines that dance light to dark.

Poet’s Corner.  Music and song is a good portion of this artists’ studio life, this installation is a series of vertical papers broad sides with words cut into long sheets and is a collection of lyrics I have heard or poems I have read.  Each ten-foot sheet was specifically created for each individual poem on mulberry and abaca fiber papers.