The Paper Engineer


The impressive paper cutting and folding of Matt Shlian.

Top: Ghostly 8, paper, 8 x 11 x 1/2 inches, 2010.

Notes from the artist’s statement:

As a paper engineer my work is rooted in print media, book arts and commercial design. Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawings and three dimensional forms. I use my engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture which have lead to collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan. We work on the nanoscale, translating paper structures to micro origami. Our investigations extend to visualizing cellular division and solar cell development. Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principals; I see their inquiry as basis for artistic inspiration. In my studio I am a collaborator, explorer and inventor. I begin with a system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over. Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final realization; in this way I come to understanding through curiosity.


4 Days in August, paper, 19 x 25 x 1/2 inches, 2010.
Pleat Spiral, paper, 40 x 30 x 20 inches, 2010.
Fred and Me, paper, 3 x 14 x 14 inches, 2009.
Light Book, cut vellum, 8 x 8 x 1/2 inches, 2004.
Paper Irwin, paper, 11 x 11 x 1/2 inches, 2009.
Agaricus, paper, 18 x 18 x 10 inches, 2010.
Paper Scales, paper, 7 x 8 x 1/2 inches, 2009.
Artwork © Matt Shlian

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Adriana de Barros

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Adriana is the Webby-winning designer and editor-in-chief of Scene360 magazine. She's created successful projects over the course of 20 years in the fields of art, design, fashion and web. Currently dividing her time between Lisbon and San Francisco. Follow the author @ Instagram Facebook and view more articles.

February 19, 2011 Art Cutouts Paper Art