After over a decade of working in oil paint I woke up one day with the desire to sculpt a figure out of papier mâché. Fragments of a story were emerging and although the narrative touched on subjects as old as the human condition, they were not to be turned into mythic, teachable moments. These stories seemed to exist within a secret space, but at the same time, were absolutely ordinary.
The shredded paper and sloppy wheat paste are humble materials. They invite the viewer to be comfortable with the subject at hand. The paper people struggle to reconcile and find balance with their world, but at the same time, they are at ease with questioning. Questioning is not a weakness and isn’t hidden.
From her days making Gnome houses in the woods for uninterrupted hours, to her years in formal art classes, beginning at the age of eight, Rosemary has never stopped creating. Whatever materials were at hand were put use. Rosemary was an award winning artist in high school and went on to study at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Washington Studio School. She has worked for an internationally recognized design studio and is now the owner of Tangelo Studio. Rosemary’s work can be found in private collections in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, and San Francisco
It was a love for artists on the margins, the ones that land somewhere between Outsider Art and mainstream art, which inspired her in her time spent away from the influences of art world trend. It was these years that gave Rosemary the freedom to develop work that is not easily defined - from her oil on panel portraiture, to her series in papier mâché
Rosemary lives with her husband and three young children in the Blue Ridge Mountains where she can be found making paper people in the kitchen, wrangling chickens, and milking goats.
We have all experiemented with papier mâché at some point and quickly concluded that it is not a medium which allows a lot of delicacy or detail. Rosemary Markowski has skillfully realized both while working on a small scale. The Paper People have become another sort of canvas for her. Although this medium is traditionally viewed as a craft, Markowski is changing perceptions by using it in her fine art.
Each figure is constructed entirely of newspaper with armatures, when needed, made from twisted paper. She then coats the finished forms with umber paint. The furniture is created using either tag or cardboard and the occasional wooden dowel. She has perfected the use of a crackle glaze, which she then tones back with her paint applications. Markowski paints whimsical patterns on her subject’s clothing, using a unique color palette of jewel tones that are warmed by the umber paint beneath.
Markowski gently but fearlessly probes into the world of familial love through her Paper People. Her work creates space for the viewer to consider their own relationships through her quiet, powerful papier mâché sculptures. Everyday stories with a hint of magical realism are told through the sculptures’ interaction with one another.There is something immediately approachable and connectable within these small sculptures. Perhaps it is their size, giving the sensation that one is peering into a doll house. The Paper People seem to stare past us, allowing us to examine them closely without a confrontation.
The characters in this domestic drama express distinct personalities and moods through their poses and meticulously painted expressions. The sculptures’ cracked surfaces speak to the fragility and endurance of the human heart. They explore family ties, joy, sadness, intimacy and the distances to be found within.
The props in these dramas also play important roles. The table serves as the modern equivalent of the hearth while simultaneously acting as a barrier between the figures. Markowski makes use of the table’s surface physically and metaphorically. Her placement of the figures reaching across the surface or looking under the table invites the viewer to examine The Paper People, themselves, and their relationships from a different perspective.
I imagine what it must be like to build these people out of paper. It must require quite a bit of patience in order to allow the paper to dry. Layer after layer of newspaper, covered with daily stories, her hands craft another story which consists of moments in time taken out of the everyday. These ordinary moments become extraordinary when placed in front of us in the form of these sculptures.
Curator, Dadian Gallery