News
by
Luo Whitmire (Mansfield News Journal)
|
Apr 26, 2019

Artist crafts flowers from paper for Kingwood Gardens exhibit

MANSFIELD - "Paper Gardens," an art exhibit at Kingwood Center Gardens by Columbus artist Lea Gray, will have some visitors wondering if the flowers are real or fake. Gray said she takes that as a compliment.

The exhibit, open through August at Kingwood Hall, is Gray's first official exhibit for her company, PaperBlooms Design LLC, She will be teaching her designs at workshops at Kingwood in May, June, August and September.

Gray makes the flowers, plants and trees from paper she buys from a company in Germany. She dyes the paper and cuts, curls and bakes the creations in her kitchen oven.

"Paper Gardens," an art exhibit at Kingwood Center Gardens now through August by Columbus artist Lea Gray has visitors wondering if the flowers are real or fake and Gray takes that as a compliment.

"Paper Gardens," an art exhibit at Kingwood Center Gardens now through August by Columbus artist Lea Gray has visitors wondering if the flowers are real or fake and Gray takes that as a compliment. (Photo: Submitted)

"My walk-in closet has a window and I use it as my spray booth," she said.

Gray, who studied fine arts with a focus on landscape painting at the Columbus College of Art and Design, soon after discovered origami. That led her to explore a more intricate path of creating with paper, she said. Her passion and love for nature spawned a new direction in emulating plants, flowers and trees.

She said she is continually inspired by nature and is passionate about combining materials and various techniques to capture the essence of each plant. From gathering real branches from nature to dyeing and baking papers, she is always taking her work to the next level, she said.

"I've been obsessed with art since kindergarten," she said.

Six or seven years ago, she was operating a business making origami lamps.

She said she got bored and said someone came along and asked her if she could make a paper flower. But the job fell through.

But a friend asked her could she make realistic-looking paper flowers for her mother for Mother's Day and offered her $100.

"I made this bouquet. It took me like 45 hours," she said. "But I loved it."

So she kept trying, saying she was astonished with what she created. And then a friend of that person wanted one for her mom, too.

Paper Gardens, an exhibit of art by Lea Gray, is now on display at Kingwood Center Gardens.

Paper Gardens, an exhibit of art by Lea Gray, is now on display at Kingwood Center Gardens. (Photo: Jason J. Molyet/News Journal)

She then realized she had a business.

"I didn't want to do origami anymore. I wanted something that was challenging and fun and that was never going to end as far as design aspects. It was sort of like origami on steroids," she said with a laugh. "It was like sculpture and still to this day it challenges me every single day."

She said there are a lot of challenges to running a business for any artist and month after month there are tears and meltdowns, but she keeps going because she loves it.

She has a lot of patience and has a lot of fun, she said.

Gray chooses branches and river rocks to incorporate into her work.

"Those are the only two things I incorporate into my work and the reason I use those things is it builds upon the illusion. For me, running a business, I don't want to spend a lot of time recreating a branch," she said.

Paper Gardens, an exhibit of art by Lea Gray, is now on display at Kingwood Center Gardens.

Paper Gardens, an exhibit of art by Lea Gray, is now on display at Kingwood Center Gardens. (Photo: Jason J. Molyet/News Journal)

For example, a yellow, flowering forsythia branch in the exhibit makes people look twice.

"A lot of people came into the gallery thinking I had just bought something as like a display for myself and then when I told them, they got up close. So it's kind of fun to play a trick; using the resin made it look like it was in real water. I like doing things like that to really try to create, is it real or is it not real?" she said.