An age-old playtime activity becomes reality with The Paper Runway, a new exhibit opening Saturday at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft that features fashions and accessories made from paper.
The juried exhibition showcases almost 50 pieces of fashion, many of which are suspended from the ceiling of the museum’s main gallery space. Featured artists hail from the U.S., Israel, Europe, Mexico and South America. The show, which originated in Atlanta, next travels to Chile.
The recycling project highlights jewelry made from magazine pages, a men’s suit fashioned from lottery tickets and a dress made with coffee filters. Some artists have crafted clothing using handmade paper; others have used materials such as dental floss, banana leaves and bark. An elaborate black and white ball gown covered in intricate paper cut outs by British artist Robert Ryan was once featured in Vogue magazine.
“One of the materials we celebrate in craft is fiber, and we’ve never done a paper exhibit all by itself,” said Gwynne Rukenbrod, the museum’s curator of fine craft. “The pieces are quite exquisite and extremely well crafted. It’s fascinating to see the range of materials.”
Some of the men’s and women’s apparel is wearable, she said, referencing the popularity of clothing made from paper and similar textiles in the 1960s.
The show includes several works by Tibetan artist Deepak Shrestha, who employs a traditional practice of cooking Daphne plants to form strips that are woven into cloth. His men’s jackets and vests are on view — “beautiful, lightweight garments that are really appropriate for climates like his,” Rukenbrod said.
She describes other fashions as “fantastical, almost ‘costumey’ — you think how uncomfortable that must be to wear.” There are avant-garde necklaces, a wedding gown, a hand-felted hat, shoes and an intricately layered fan on view.
“It will be fun for visitors to identify everyday items that translate into fashion and accessories,” she said. “It is so much easier to look at a dress (made with paper) than a collage. It allows us to feel a closer kinship to the show and the pieces in the show. Everybody understands and knows fashion. Whether it’s your bible or not, it plays into everyone’s life.”
Look for jewelry by local paper and origami artist Marguerite Belkin in the museum’s eclectic gift shop. The brooches, earrings and necklaces start at $25.