Design I // Suddeth Elementary School Installation

Fall 2016: For Design I’s final project, I wanted to do a collaborative vinyl installation similar to one my class did a couple years ago as blogged about HERE, but in a location with more permanency to be enjoyed by the public. Getting students outside of the classroom to put their skills to use opens them up to the realization that the things they are learning in this freshman level class has meaning and a place in the world.

I contacted Suddeth Elementary School in Starkville, MS to gauge their interest in the project. They happily accepted, and they considered windows throughout their campus that would be an inviting place for colorful vinyl stickers. This hallway with two sets of windows was chosen by their faculty committee for this project:

Next we had to determine a theme. Suddeth’s faculty committee decided to illustrate quotes based on kindness per set of windows: Plant Kindness, Grow Love and Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti.

My class was split so half were to work on one quote, and the other half focusing on the other quote. Each student brainstormed with a series of thumbnails, and I helped them narrow down to their best idea to be drawn in more detail on proportionally gridded spaces on typing paper in relation to the window dimensions. Then my students voted on the strongest sketches in the class, 3 designs for each quote for a total of 6 ideas.

I invited Principle Mosley to come to our class for a presentation of the top 6 sketches to choose the top theme for each quote. School counselor Mrs. Caradine joined her. After the presentations, they consulted their faculty committee and chose the final designs (labeled as WINNERs below).

Below are images of the top 6 sketches and presentations :

Plant Kindness, Grow Love

Anna Terry’s sketch
Anna Terry’s presentation
Caroline Fitzwater’s sketch
Caroline Fitzwater’s presentation
WINNER: Meghan Norman’s sketch
WINNER: Meghan Norman’s presentation

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti

Savannah Martinez’s sketch
Savannah Martinez’s presentation
Megan Henry’s sketch
Megan Henry’s presentation
WINNER: Melissa Sones’ sketch
WINNER: Melissa Sones’ presentation

Meghan and Melissa were so excited to have their designs chosen!

I scanned in their designs and worked on various color combinations using Adobe Illustrator, only using yellow, blue, red, and green. I also added a fun elementary-feel typeface for the text in place of their sketched handwriting.

Meghan Norman’s design with color
Melissa Sones’ design with color

The vinyl was ordered and shipped, so it was time to cut out the stickers! The digital images were projected to scale onto our classroom wall. Students traced off the shapes onto the corresponding colors of vinyl with Sharpies, and handed them off to another group  who cut out the shapes with an X-acto knife and peeled away the unnecessary background vinyl. Then large-surface masking tape was applied on top of the vinyl sticker and labeled to be fully prepped to operate as a sticker for installation day.

Finally it was installation day! Students carpooled over to the school that rainy morning and we got to work.

Organizing (and sometimes improvising) stickers
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Working together to separate, organize, and install stickers
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
The finished product!
The finished product!
The whole crew: (Top left–right) Mary Katherine Swindoll, me, Tess Frazier, Savannah Martinez, Meghan Norman, Karleigh Harfst, Anna Terry, Hayden Hunt, Dee Triplett & Eric Lindsey. (Bottom left–right) Ashtyn Carpenter, Melissa Sones, Megan Henry, Caroline Fitzwater, Haley Lawrence & Elise Sears.

The project was featured on Mississippi State University’s “State Spotlight” blog on December 8th and MSU’s College of Architecture, Art + Design blog on December 7th.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity of Suddeth Elementary School opening up their hallway for us to use as canvases, and hope the children and faculty enjoy these art installations for many years to come!


Design I // Fall 2014 // What Goes Up Must Come Down

Last semester my small Design I crew did a collaborative project– a vinyl sticker installation designed and placed by them.  It was a fun project, and added a nice splash of color in front of Howell Hall on Mississippi State University’s campus.  Read about the project HERE. But alas, the time has come for it to come down.


Taking down the installation has proven to be more work than putting it up! To remove the stickers, we’re using razor scrapers and pulling it away from the window when it allows. Then we have to remove the sticky left behind on the windows with acetone, cleaner, and LOTS of scrubbing.  We’re working on it little-by-little on Friday mornings, so there is still a little bit left to go.

But something interesting happened last Friday.  While we were working that morning, a number of students were passing by heading to class.  Some glanced at us in curiosity; others didn’t seem to know we were there. Then I noticed in the window reflection a guy standing a few paces away staring at us. I turned to see if we were blocking him from entering the building.

He said, “What class did this?”

I replied, “Design I last semester.”

He asked, “Why are you taking it down?”

“Because that’s just the rules.”

He seemed almost offended that we were taking it down.  “It’s just that I remember walking past this building after it was put up, and….” His voice trailed off and he walked away shaking his head in pity.

HOW WONDERFUL!  A student on campus was impacted by the installation, and hated to see it go.  That makes me happy.

Creative Quarterly Runner-Up

I am pleased to announce that Creative Quarterly magazine voted my Cloud Gazing paper installation Runner-Up in the Professional Fine Art category for their 38th publication.  (Might I add that this installation is still available for purchase?)


This is my second time to receive recognition from Creative Quarterly. Last spring I was awarded Runner-Up in the Student Illustration category for their 35th publication.


Design I Collaborative Vinyl Public Installation

First off, I just read I now have 635 followers on this blog.  Is this real life?!  Thank you to everyone who likes to read what I post!

My Design I class at Mississippi State University is composed of 4 students.  That may seem small, but they are mighty!  We have had a good time together this semester.  The art department encourages basic design classes to work on a collaborative project.  When I was thinking of project ideas, I remembered seeing Louisiana Tech University design classes make vinyl sticker installations on their classroom floor.  They also placed vinyl stickers on windows and along stairways.

I thought that the window entrance of the building we have class in, Howell Hall, would look great with a splash of color!  We have access to a vinyl cutter, so we got to work.

Each of my students filled 4 sheets of paper with clean, abstract, geometric and organic doodles with Sharpies or Micron pens. Next I scanned the sheets into the computer, enlarged the imagery to fill the width of the vinyl roll, and imported the shapes into the Cutting Master software. This software communicated to the vinyl cutter where to cut shapes into the vinyl sheets.
The machine took about 30 minutes to cut out each student’s design sheets. Then I picked the negative space vinyl with a tiny tool so I could pull it away and discard it.

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Then it was ready to install! My students were a little skeptical at first, as the stickers were really sticky and it took them awhile to get in the hang of it. But before the first day of installing was over, they really got into the process! They found it freeing to make quick decisions, and the repetitive nature of picking and sticking allowed them to be reflective in mind. The colors reminded them of Nickelodeon and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine van. As time moved on, they carried on in fun conversation while they worked. My tiny, quiet class became more talkative as they learned about each other and worked together to create their public installation.

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A lot was accomplished that first day of installment! Today they finished up, and felt very proud of their hard work.
Students, left to right: George Kinsey (interior design), Melanie Moore (art), Katie Fretesi (interior design) Not pictured– Haley Beckham (interior design)
It will be on display for two months! Go check it out and enjoy!

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Featured by Elsa Mora

I need to get in the hang of promoting my work, so I emailed my paper images to some of my paper artist heroes– Helen Hiebert, Denise Fleming, Elsa Mora, and Rob Ryan‘s personal assistant. They all responded and were so kind! I feel a little star-struck right now.  You should click on their names and see the fantastic things they do.

On June 23rd, Elsa was kind enough to feature my Cloud Gazing installation on her paper blog All About Papercutting and Facebook!  She even shared that it was for sale. (No offers received yet!) Seeing that 132 strangers “liked” the post, and 13 “shared” the link on Facebook just blew this young artist’s mind. Many thanks to Elsa for promoting my work!

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Cloud Gazing for Sale!

My installation Cloud Gazing was a huge feat for me.  A lot of love and time went into the making of this project, but now it is sitting in my grandparents’ dining room all alone.  There has to be a use for it somewhere!  Any inquiries to display or buy, please contact me at  I will receive offers.  To view more images, visit, or my blog post My MFA Thesis Show.


My MFA Thesis Show

I am proud to present my MFA Thesis Show body of work entitled Play.  You may click on the images to view them at a larger size.

Artist statement:

We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, speaking of the Neverland

My work is inspired by the joyful feelings that come from an awe-filled outlook on the world that a child understands and naturally possesses. There is a beauty within such memories, and those experiences are still there to rediscover and savor today. Remember to never forget the rush of flying toward the sky with the help of a swing-set, hiding from monsters underneath bed-sheet forts, that pets are the greatest secretkeepers, and that lightning bugs are fairies in disguise. Today’s culture focuses so much on what a child should learn from adults. My art focuses on the opposite: What can adults relearn from children to better enjoy our daily lives? What magical and fun occurrences are overlooked in this busy, straight-forward world?

To construct my illustrative pieces, hand-recylced paper is transformed into twodimensional and three-dimensional creations. My work translated through this medium feels profoundly appropriate, as many children first express themselves through art by manipulating a sheet of paper. And like this sheet of paper, childhood is fragile and full of possibilities. The art of papermaking is a messy, tactile process, and calls to mind memories of mud pies and sand castles. To achieve a variety of forms, contemporary methods are utilized such as laser cutting and etching. My intent is for the audience to experience a sense of wonder upon viewing my work, and realize life can once again be a grand adventure.


On the front wall of the gallery, awesome cyanotype portraits by Jaime Johnson were hung of the MFA candidates in the show.



Business cards and artist statements:


“Cloud Gazing” installation made with hand-recycled paper.  This was inspired by my memories of looking at the white, puffy clouds in the sky as a child and imagining shapes and figures.  I had a lot of help making these casted paper forms, as documented in my earlier blog posts.

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Laser cut original typography on hand-recycled paper:

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Laser cut hand-recycled paper leaves:

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Artist talk:

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My gallery area:


Many thanks to Matthew Ramsaur and Jaime Johnson for the awesome photos!  I will have my portfolio website updated with new imagery soon.  I am now looking forward to graduation at Louisiana Tech University in a couple weeks!  Three years of study, research, and art-making has paid off.  Please click to check out my friends’ work who were also in the show:

Jaime Johnson, photography

Peter Hay, painting and printmaking

Casey Parkinson, ceramics

Matthew Knopps, sculpture

MC Davis, painting

Jake Dugard, screen-printing



Leaves Galore!

A large project for my MFA show that I am super excited (and a little overwhelmed) about is making a HUGE handmade paper leaf pile.  Yep, with handmade paper.  I start off making large sheets of paper, and then have as many leaves laser-cut out of that sheet as possible.  I have another idea for what I will do with them at the show….an experience….but I just can’t tell you right now.  It will ruin the surprise!  But it will be magical, and worth the wait.  You’ll just have to witness it for yourself!  But until the opening reception on Thursday, April 24th, I will be making so many leaves that my hands may go numb.  It will be beautiful, though.

Laser-cut file for 28×17″ paper

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The laser-cutter at work


Leaves drying after dipping them in water to remove some of the ash


Crinkling the leaves by hand to give them a more leaf-like appearance




As an artist making new work, it’s good to research what other people are doing in the world to know what is possible, and inspire new ideas.  I’ve been looking into papermakers, paper casting artists, designers, typographers, illustrators, and installation artists to fuel my brain for what’s to come with my work.  I’ll provide some imagery and a brief statement of my favorites and why I think they rock.


* Shannon Brock – personal website not found

Not Home for the Holdidays2“Not Home for the Holidays”, 2007, 26″ x 26″

Shannon is an American artist.  I love that the entirety of her work is layered effects of paper pulp, alone, called pulp painting.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I was immediately drawn to the imagery, but when I read her artist statement, I understood why there was such a kinship that I felt with her work.

Shannon’s artist statement:

Much of my work has been influenced by both my family members and my childhood experiences growing up on a small farm in eastern Missouri. This series, titled Family Album, is one I started in 2007.

Family has always been an extremely important part of my life. My family members relationships with one another, the people we became, the choices we made and our expectations of each other, provide me with much of my subject matter. As a small child it was exciting growing up on a farm. We had a front yard full of dandelions. They were flowers to me when I was young, but as a teenager it was embarrassing to know that what we had was really a yard full of weeds. Now, as an adult living in New York City for the past 14 years, I can see those dandelions as flowers again. My early life on the farm is something I value and is important to who I am today. I have begun to look back at those earlier feelings of being a farm kid and the parts of our life style that made me happy and at other times embarrassed. Using images from the rural and economically depressed surroundings of my youth, I try to capture the beauty of the people and places. Dandelions in my front yard were once a source of embarrassment but are now a source of reassurance and sense of home.”

With my work, I am also trying to remember what characterizes and captivates a child’s imagination, and in turn illustrating such memories and events to remind “grown-ups” what they’ve lost since becoming adults.  I love the line “We had a front yard full of dandelions. They were flowers to me when I was young, but as a teenager it was embarrassing to know that what we had was really a yard full of weeds. Now, as an adult living in New York City for the past 14 years, I can see those dandelions as flowers again.”  That is exactly what I’m trying to say with my work.

*Miriam Londono

1-7--colombo--medellin_works“Stories of Immigrants”, 500 cms x 155 cms, Paper, 2007

Miriam is a German artist that writes and draws with paper pulp in squeeze bottles on a flat surface, allows it dry, carefully peels it away, then hangs them up as beautiful installations.

I have already tried this technique after seeing her work, and I was very pleased with the results.  It’s an interesting alternative to simply laser-cutting paper imagery.  I am most interested in this process and the different ways it can be incorporated.

*Denise Fleming

DF42American papermaker Denise is a children’s book author and illustrator.  Her illustrations are made entirely of colored pulp, which she works into layers with the use of stencils.  The imagery is very colorful, and the texture seems to jump off the page.  I respect her for her time-consuming process, and that she also has full control of the book’s appearance as she writes the story, as well.


*Allen & Patty Eckman –

Love-of-a-MotherAllen and Patty are an American married couple who have invented a painstaking paper casting process called “The Eckman Method”.  The image above was created with individual paper castings that were molded by different silicone molds, and adhered together to make a complex piece.  Every image I see, my mouth drops open with amazement.  Their work revolves around Cherokee culture, inspired by Allen’s ancestry.  So their work’s theme has nothing to do with what I seek to do, but OH MY GOSH, LOOK AT THAT CRAFTSMANSHIP.  They are THE paper casting masters.

*Julia Anne Goodman

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 1.58.29 AM20_julia022-copy-221_136dayslaterdetail30_web130129goodman-11036Julia Anne is quite a find in the area of paper casting.  She is an American artist with many versions of how she treats paper casted work, both in 2-D and 3-D forms.  I had to post an example of each method she uses.  As I am least familiar with paper casting, and am taking a Directed Study on this technique, I know her website will be an inspiration I will return to again and again.

*Kerri Cushman

birdsimroulette1_510butterbutt3_510Kerri is an American artist known for her sculptural artist books, handmade paper, and letterpress pieces.  Her blueberry pie piece was the first paper casted work I found that didn’t look like a 2-year-old did it.  The “blueberries” are actually denim cast-paper eggs!  So smart.  Both of these pieces are considered books, as you can read text from inside the blueberries, and on the slices of butter.  If I can make 3-D forms as beautiful as this before this school year is up, I’d say my year was a success.

*Matthew Sporzynski

0505_frontis_cooking0405_frontis_cooking0905_frontis_cooking1005_frontis_cookingOkay….so Matthew isn’t a paper caster, but his paper sculpture is so deliciously 3-D, it makes the most sense for him to be categorized as such.  You can find his work on the opening section pages of Real Simple magazine.  He uses a range of techniques including papier-mache, silhouette cutting, origami-style paper folding, and collage.  So I’m thinking if paper casting fails me this quarter (and I am a bit scared of it), then this method of paper sculpting may turn out to be successful for me.  Just looking at his forms make me excited!

Matthew states:

“You have to keep working on them until they don’t look like garbage anymore!” and admits that his sculptures are “far better received than I perceive them myself. I see the flaws.”


*Helen Musselwhite


This British lady is the queen of the xacto knife.  As most of her imagery is inspired by what’s seen on the countryside, I am completely in love.  Her craftsmanship blows me away.  I hope to own one of her pieces someday.  She is also a graphic designer.

*Stuart McLachlan –

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Australian illustrator Stuart is a man that has his fingers in many pies, creating and displaying his cut paper from editorials to fashion catwalks.  I find his work similar to Helen Musselwhite’s in theme and craftsmanship.  I want to figure out how he lights up his work so beautifully, when it is all made up of white paper.

Stuart quotes:

“Paper is a medium without boundaries, it can be molded, formed and cut into almost any form imaginable, I endeavor to push its physical boundaries and create imagery and art that is not expected from such a delicate structured material. The goal of art is to surprise and excite, to bring something new to the table.”

*Yulia Brodskaya

yulia-brodskaya-12A native of Russia, Yulia is an internationally-known artist with an impressive list of clients (click here).  She graduated with her MA in Graphic Communication, and appropriately calls her paper sculptures “PAPERgraphics”.   Yulia’s work is so beautiful and intricate, I can’t help but stare in amazement.  As her trademark method is turning strips of paper on its side to decorate the base page, I may want to explore trying this method for some future work of my own.

*Rob Ryan

Rob-Ryan-We-Don’t-Fly-North-2008.-Papercut-paper-100-x-61-cmBritish man Rob is a paper cutter that strips everything down as much as possible to produce a high-contrast, high-detailed image.  With one piece of paper, and a series of knives, he brings his masterpieces to reality by hand!  I guess we can say he is the king of the xacto knife!  His individual pieces portray a story in silhouette about sadness, being alone, and longing for love.  If you look closely at this image, you will see he cuts text into the paper, as well.  That’s impressive!  Rob, you are a skilled, brave man, but I think I’ll rely on the laser cutter for my complex images.  Beautiful work!

*Jeff Nishinaka

paper-art-man-on-pianoJeff is an American paper sculpture.  His work does well to show life-like depth while still remaining fairly flat.  One of his biggest admirers and largest collector of his work is Jackie Chan.  (I’d say you’ve hit the big time if Jackie Chan is your biggest fan.)  He states on his website:

“I have always wanted to be a painter, but while studying illustration at Art Center, I was given assignments in both a graphic design and fashion drawing class at the same time to experiment in different mediums, one of them being paper.  That was my ‘Ah-ha!’ moment.  I quickly developed a feel for working with paper.  From then on, I began experimenting with different papers, finding ways to shape, bend, and round edges on it.  I wanted to manipulate paper in the least invasive way, to keep the integrity and feel of it.  Paper to me is a living, breathing thing that has a life of it’s own.  I just try to redirect that energy into something that feels animated and alive.”

I would love to figure out his methods for my own work, though I’m unsure if my hand-recycled paper will behave in that same way.

*Calvin Nicholls

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.14.52 AMSimilar to Jeff, Canadian artist Calvin learned to manipulate paper to form 3-D textural images.  With paper and scissors, Calvin manages to create elaborate wildlife and landscape imagery.  He also started out his career as a graphic designer before finding his passion in paper sculpture.

*Alexandra Ball –

1o48British children’s book illustrator Alexandra has a specific illustrating style all her own.  With muted colors, minimal texture, and playful, happy imagery, she exudes peaceful childhood innocence and harmony with the world around them.  Something about our illustrative styles seems familiar, I would hope that the feeling one gets when viewing both of our works would be the same.

*Julie Morstad –

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TheSwing_Spread2Julie is an award-winning illustrator and artist from Vancouver.  I also feel a kindredness when viewing her work.  There is such a purity in the treatment of her illustrations, with sweet imaginative moments.  Some work may be more complex, colorful, or textural than others, but there is a definite commonality in style.  It even reminds me of the “Dick & Jane” books.  Ah, I’d love to meet her.

*Kathleen Lolley

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 11.00.54 PMKathleen spent much of her youth in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  Storytelling plays a prominent role in her work, along with playfulness and dark ideas.  Nature, folk tales, and philosophy inspire her style, while she uses a mix of mediums appropriate to her concept– including paper and shadowbox art.  Her work presents a magical world with hints of mystery that I enjoy.


*Mia Pearlman


miaAmerican installation artist Mia received her BFA in Architecture, and eventually discovered her passion of paper sculpture.  Her pieces are GIGANTIC– overwhelming spaces of the room to the degree you can’t imagine it’s all cut white paper.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially when it’s showcased with natural or artificial light.  She begins by making loose line drawings in India ink on large rolls of paper.  Then she cuts out selected areas between the lines to make a new drawing in positive and negative space.

*Liz Miller

liz-miller-histrionic-malfeasance-03I had the pleasure of meeting American installation artist Liz Miller a couple of years ago when I started graduate school.  Our art department featured her work in one of the galleries, and us grad students helped her piece it together.  Felt, foam, and other tactile materials envelop the space so that the viewer can walk around and thru it, and physically experience it.  Each show she does brings about different color schemes and imagery, demonstrating pattern and ornament with a theme of armor and weaponry.

Though her installation work isn’t created with paper, it inspires the possibly of creating paper installations of such large scale like Mia Pearlman.


*Sean McCabe

here-we-areAmerican artist Sean is a pro at hand-drawn typography.  Finding his portfolio website was like a breath of fresh air.  He can create typography as elaborate or straight-forward as it is fitting to the word or quote he is working with.  This is something I hope to achieve with my work this year.  I find that hand-drawn typography will work best with my art, as hand-drawn type has plenty of personality that can conform to the theme of any artwork.

*Eva Markova

67345e09e04e6dc95dba96289989e214Eva is a Bulgarian graphic designer and illustrator.  The fact that her website says she is 22 years old is incredibly intimidating, and makes me want to become friends with her all at once.  Her work is very colorful and playful, which I admire.  Some of her typography is a little hard to read, but that is partly what I find beautiful about it.  She allows the text to be apart of the imagery– not the imagery apart of the text.  The 3 pieces I feature above is hand drawn by Eva, then vectorized and laser-cut.  I will also be experimenting with laser-cut imagery in the same way.

*Jessica Hische

sayitwithflowersJessica is an American letterer and illustrator, and has to be one of the most well-known current designers.  She came to Mississippi State University when I was an undergrad to do a lettering workshop before she blew up with fame, and I decided I had too much homework to do that night to attend.  (Stupid me! What a missed opportunity!)  Her style is fairly recognizable with its pure awesomeness.  She also had the opportunity to design classic novel covers for Barnes & Noble (see it here).  I carried a boxed set around the store for probably an hour before I sadly put it back on its shelf, as I was broke as a joke and couldn’t afford it.  I had to buy the Little Women book when it came out, though!  Okay, I’ve gotten off track here.

I’ve kept up with Jessica’s work the longest out of the people I’m featuring, and she never ceases to amaze me.  The end.