Paper kaleidoscopes


Beautiful, coloured, hypnotizing: Her paper works of art are famous all over the world for their geometrical optical plays, which would induce you to never take your eyes off them. From America, here are Jen Stark’s hypnotic sculptures, which mark only but the beginning of her success


We have reported about several passionate artists on these pages: some of them have undergone specific and qualified training, others are self-taught, others have discovered their artistic talent by chance or have inherited it from their childhood. It then happens that techniques evolve, and the same works of art are subject to major changes, i.e. new materials, new inspirations, new emotions. What is not so common, instead, is to find artists who are capable of having their inspiration characterize such varied, thereby contaminating parallel worlds with little or no chance at all to meet.

This is the case of this American artist, who made herself known for her wonderful paper sculptures, but who also able to reach success and become a protagonist of video communication, and, if one were to judge based on the emotional effects of her artworks, of the world of clothing, make-up and fashion. And we are not talking about paper clothes. This extremely interesting story deserves to be told from the beginning.


Sculptures first

Her name is Jen Stark She is an American artist born in Miami, Florida, in 1983, who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She is known especially for her repetitive and tangled sculptures, which often resemble natural models. Hers is a hypnotic work, which is led by her interest to conceptualize visual systems in order to stimulate the growth of plants, evolution, mimetic topographic maps, the infinity, fractals and the sacred geometry of the universe.

The artist’s leap in the world of art dates back to 2007, with her amazing psychedelic sculptures made with coloured layers of paper. Based on the exploration of possibilities of replication and the infinity, which is similar to a mandala, Jen Stark imitates the tangled models and vivid colour nuances that can be found in nature, with an endless spiral, down deep towards the inside, until a perfect point of karmic meditation is reached.

As a result, the spectator is involved and sucked by optical and hypnotic plays in a sacred and transcendent experience. Her work aims at showing the potential beauty hidden behind materials that are very simple and within easy reach, as well as basic geometrical shapes, which simply keep on repeating in her creations.

Some believe that the spiritual reservoir, from which the artist draws her inspiration, is generated with mathematical coldness, and yet it reveals exuberance and the curiosity of a child who remains open-mouthed before the complexity of the petals of a flower, the regular pattern of a web or the order the tree rings, ranging from macro- to micro-science, from holograms to Rorschach tests.


“Not just” material exploration

Although Stark is more widely known for her paper sculptures, she has explored a variety of media, including wood, paint, mirrors, metal and animation. This work is well expressed with the creation of graffiti, animated films, as well as the creation of patterns for the clothing and fashion industry. And, also, when the medium changes, the artist still manages to communicate, in an amazing way, a nature that reveals flowers’ appealing and repulsive properties encouraging pollination and the bright mystery of the sea’s fluorescent creatures.

The kinetic and wavy effects are wonderfully well-suited to video communication, which are very well suited for video communication. Yet, equally emotional results can be obtained in paper artworks and in the pattern used for the clothing and fashion industry, as the artist’s ability to create minimal and naturalistic atmospheric configurations always leaves breathless. Be they 3D installations, drawings or video-animations, the interesting aspect is Jen Stark’s constant intention to have the spectator participate in the work of art from within. An optical illusion, a change in perspective and, above all, the invitation to make an imaginary, physical or mental movement are all constant elements of her creations.

The artist’s life and intellectual inspirations

Where does all this inspiration come from?  Jen Stark studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she graduated in 2005. Her mentors include prominent artists, like Yayoi Kusama, Sol Lewitt, Tara Donovan, Tom Friedman, Andy Goldsworthy, Ernst Haeckel and the Los Angeles Finish Fetish artists of the 1960s.

She has organized exhibitions worldwide, with major shows in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Thailand and Canada. Her artworks have been included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the West Collection, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and MOCA Miami, among others. With such an energy, Jen Stark couldn’t but start new projects, which included high-profile assignments, thereby opening up new horizons and, at the same time, remaining faithful to her dizzying complexity and showing that her creativity is not limited by any medium or scale. This was the case with the video scenery Jen Stark made for the performance of the artist Miley Cyrus or the installations in Los Angeles or other American squares.

Her technique

Countless layers of coloured sheets. Books opening up on the infinity, coloured spirals and whirlpools reproducing patterns derived from the study of biological processes. Paper integrating with other materials: paper is the artist’s favourite material and means of expression. As can be easily imagined, the creation of any sculpture requires time and infinite precision: in spite all works of art appear so perfect, as if they have been carved out from a CNC machine, they are, in fact, all cut by hand by the artist or her assistants. It can take several working days for each work of art and in order not to work exclusively on just one support, several artworks are normally created at the same time.

Her collaborations

Thanks to her colourful and hypnotic patterns, as well as her sprinkling energy, Jen Stark has conquered museums, private clients and fashion brands, who all identified occasions to make something unique in her ideas. That is how, for example, her patterns are to be found in Vans footwear, as well as on bags and leggings trousers of the same brand, which be bought on her online store.