Inside the Artist’s Studio with Werner Sun: Redbud Reconsidered

Werner’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I am an abstract artist from Ithaca, NY and I work with digital prints, drawings, and other paper materials that I cut and fold into three-dimensional patterns. I started making these paper sculptures about five years ago. At the time I was experimenting with digital photographic compositions, but I wanted them to be more than just pixels on a computer screen; I wanted to work with them as physical objects. These folded sculptures are my way of establishing a kind of intimacy with my images.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Below, I show the process I used for a recent wall sculpture (18″ x 24″ x 2″) called Redbud Reconsidered. This piece began with a photograph I took of a redbud tree in my yard on a sunny October day, when the leaves were a brilliant shade of gold.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Then, I brought this image into Photoshop and combined it with some abstracted floating shapes derived from a different photograph.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

At this point, I made a 12″ x 16″ archival inkjet print of the image. Instead of folding the print itself (as I usually do), I decided to overlay some patterns made from plain white paper. Below, you can see the folded elements being constructed and then arranged on the print.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

In playing around with the composition, I couldn’t get the proportions quite right. So, I reprinted the image in a larger size and added pencil drawings on top. I also introduced a second, smaller version of the folded pattern to soften the visual rhythm. Finally, I mounted the new print and the folded elements on a 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″ wooden board (painted black), and I coated all the exposed paper with protective acrylic varnish. The finished piece is shown below.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

A consistent theme in my work has been the use of patterns to transform my visual materials. I am a particle physicist by training, and I’m fascinated by how people figure things out, how our brains can come up with new knowledge by teasing out patterns from a sea of data. So, in a way, my artistic process mirrors my scientific process. In Redbud Reconsidered, I’m treating the source image as data to be understood, and the alterations I’ve made by hand — the pencil drawings and folded paper — grow out of a close examination of the material. These superimposed patterns therefore serve as a lasting record of my own curiosity.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Werner’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Werner’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at www.wernersun.com and follow him on Instagram @wernersun.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Kathryn E. Noska.

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