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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Local Artist Opens New Show at FTC

Courtesy Kristine Donnelly.
Stop by Fort Thomas Coffee the rest of the January to take in the engaging new art show featuring artist Kristine Donnelly.

Her medium is paper but forget everything you know about paper because you will never look at paper the same way. These pieces are elaborate, intricate, mesmerizing. Each design is meticulously cut by hand with an Exacto knife.

Her fascination with this approach began when she did an artist residency in Prague, Czech Republic. Her website, ( reveals that  “Donnelly began creating small cut paper collages from abstracted patterned forms.  Her work has since evolved into large-scale paper sculptures and installation.” 

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I asked Donnelly about cutting every piece by hand and she told me that “It takes about and hour to cut a square foot (depending on complexity of design).  It does require patience, but it's a labor of love.  The process, the meticulous time consuming act of cutting is very much a part of the artwork.  When I cut a repeated design over and over again, I very much get lost in the choreographed act.  The design process and planning take very long and are filled with trial and error.  It's a treat when I finally get to sit down and cut.” Some of her larger pieces can take up to a year to create.

Courtesy Kristine Donnelly.
She goes on to say, “I was trained as a figure painter (oils). In the early 2000s, I was painting a series where figures had different patterns behind the (honeycomb, fleur de lis, etc).  As I was painting them, I realized I was more interested in painting the patterns than the figures.  So I started making paintings of patterns (art deco, nouveau, victorian) and became frustrated with oil paint.  It's wonderful and fluid- very challenging when you are trying to achieve specific edges.  Thus I started layering paper on top of the paint.  

Immediately I loved paper - I could build depth, I could preserve a straight edge.  I was working with white paper and it felt like a blank slate.  Everyone understands paper - we all encounter it everyday.  I started cutting it up to the point of destruction.  I was more apt to take risks with it because ‘it's just paper.’  Thus the work slowly became larger and more sculptural.  I love the physicality of it and the unique history behind paper.  In addition to paper, I work with Tyvek- the paper-like substance used to wrap houses during construction.  Because it is so durable, this material allows for more gregarious cutting and outdoor installations.”

Courtesy Kristine Donnelly.

Kristine Donnelly is a formidable artist. In addition to teaching art at Highlands High School, Donnelly has been the recipient of a Summerfair Individual Artist Grant.  She has exhibited at the Carl Solway Gallery, the Carnegie Arts Center, and Taft Museum of Art, University of Cincinnati Galleries, and 21c Museum Hotel. 

These are intricate and beguiling designs. So bring a friend, enjoy a cup of coffee, and enjoy the show. The show runs through early March.

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