Caroline Garrett Hardy’s Work
With a background in printmaking, I was introduced to handmade papers from around the world. I now work mostly in paper. I developed an early fascination with the texture of different papers, ranging from Japanese papers to throw-away materials like commercial brochures, napkins, and restaurant menus. I habitually make rubbings on such papers from utility covers, plaques, and tombstones. If you look closely at my work, you may be able to recognize fragments of text from just such rubbings and recycled papers.
I rekindled my deep admiration for Japanese artistic sensibilities during a trip to Japan in 2012 and again from an exhibition of woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige in 2016 at William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum. I am drawn to the Japanese flair for unexpected combinations of patterns, as well as to Hiroshige’s masterful botanical and landscape compositions.
Creating paper kimonos and collages from my stash of paper rubbings allows me to juxtapose the elegance of authentic Japanese “rice” papers (actually made from mulberry tree fibers) with the humble shreds of everyday discards. This combination produces a vibrantly colorful visual treat, with subtle clues of meaning in the text and imagery from rubbings and my choices of multifarious types of paper. I create to enhance the capacity for engagement with my audience, and to bring to light things of wonder and consternation. That’s the work of an artist: to bring a new vision to sight.