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Why I Choose Paper

Summer 2016
Summer 2016
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Yang Changhe received her master's degree in July 2015 from the Department of Visual Communication Design, Academy of Arts & Design, at Tsinghua University, in Beijing, China. She focused primarily on paper art and hand papermaking. She can be reached by email at Paper became my friend when I was 24 years old. Now we meet and talk frequently. I read lots of books to become familiar with her. I practice papermaking over and over again to understand her character. I see exhibitions about her to keep up with her current state of affairs. I can't help but to fall in love with her in our every communication. Some of my friends wonder why I choose paper while everyone is enamored by virtual technology and digital media. Maybe paper has some mysterious relationship with my five elements. I just need paper in my life.

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First of all, paper is like a tree for me. It possesses real life with blood and emotions. Paper can have different personalities based on fiber composition. Kozo paper is just like an old professor with nuanced facial expressions, hinting at a lot of hidden stories. Flax paper is like an old soldier with rough skin. It seems to be cold and tough, but it is sensitive inside. Xuan paper with its beautiful, white skin is more like a well-mannered girl. Environment plays a big role in the qualities of paper. Compared to paper from North China, its cousin in South China rolls out flat when a scroll is unfurled. A piece of paper has birth, illness, and death. It gets its nutrition from external conditions and helps to protect the people and things it surrounds. Secondly, paper is a temple I could live in. Making paper is a process of spiritual practice for me. Everyday, we face a virtual society. We work online, buy online, talk online, even love online. We do these things at warp speed, and our lives have become more convenient than before. However we have less time to communicate with others and with ourselves. I do not want to live in such a way. I prefer to make art by hand rather than on a computer. I enjoy the whole, often unpredictable, process of living instead of getting an instantaneous, expected result. Making paper offers me the opportunity to look inside and think in a quiet way. Most importantly, paper is a bridge between my future and my past, connecting my body with my emotion and enabling me to get in touch with the real world. I learned graphic design while I was in college. Paper is a fundamental medium in our department. We print paper to make books, we fold paper to pack products, and we hang paper in public places to express our concept on a poster. We were trained to use paper properly. And after studying how to make paper by hand, I have even deeper feelings for it. The paper I make reflects my state of mind. I cannot make an even, soft paper when I am annoyed. The paper art I make wears my mood on its surface. I am in a calm state when I make sheets from a white, smooth vat of kozo. Different textures are metaphors I use to express myself. Connecting with the outside world through paper make me feel free from worry. Paper will be my lifelong companion. I choose to live with her because I appreciate her natural beauty and integrity. Someone with a wealth of experience tried to persuade me not to work in a sunset industry. However, don't trust anyone over 30! It is my belief that paper will not die in the digital era. Conversely, humans need warmth and substance. Paper will become even more meaningful in the future.