Friday, February 3, 2012

Nava Lubelski: Art Made From Taxes

1999 Tax file - Close up Detail

Being an artist, I always love seeing people breathing new life into old or discarded things that would otherwise be cast aside or thrown away. This artist I'm posting about today is very innovative in that I've never heard of anyone using old tax returns for art! Her organic sculptures are very cellular and abstract, but powerful in their message of using old paper to create a new amalgamation of an almost living, growing entity. These images inspire a me to think of how we're all putting our money into taxes which builds this creation of otherwise wasted cellulose.

Read more about Nava Lubelski or just scroll down to the bottom to see what all the hub-bub is about, and if you like these you should check out her other works on her website,

Nava Lubelski was born and grew up in the SoHo section of New York City. She graduated from Hunter College High School in Manhattan in 1986 and earned a BA in Russian Literature and History from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in 1990. She spent a year abroad as a student in Moscow, Russia.
Lubelski authored The Starving Artist's Way[2][3] and is a 2008 grantee of The Pollock Krasner Foundation.[4]

Nava Lubelski is an artist who was born in 1968 who creates these cellular sculptures using tightly rolled paper scrolls comprised of tax returns, rejection letters, and other collected waste paper.


My work explores the contradictions between the impulse to destroy and the compulsion to mend. I juxtapose rapid acts of destruction, such as spilling and cutting, with painstaking, restorative labor. Embroideries are hand-stitched over stains and rips, contrasting the accidental with the meticulous, constructing narrative from randomness and mistake. The initial marks are found on linens or are created by cutting and staining canvas. The work scrambles expressions of aggression with masochistic patience and sublimation and plays with the feminine through the graphic form of the "stain" and the adding of peek-a-boo, lace inlays to repair cut holes that expose the hidden space behind the canvas. Shadows on the wall add a sculptural dimension and some pieces are hung off the wall to reveal the secret and unintended marks of the verso.
Shredded paper sculptures, such as the Tax Files, reconfigure a mass of paper that has been grouped and saved due to written content, into slabs reminiscent of tree cross-sections where the climate of a given year, and the tree's overall age are visible in a single slice. Historical information is revealed in the colors of deposit slips, pay stubs, receipts and tax forms. The cellular coils spiral outward, mimicking biological growth, as they are glued together into flat rounds, which suggest lichen, doilies or disease. The re-use of paper, as well as the attempted "repair" of the long-lost original tree, is an examination of feelings of despair about waste and unsustainability while simultaneously responding to the shadow impulse to hoard and keep what is no longer needed. The exercise of translating numbers back into a comprehensible, physical manifestation is also an attempt to develop a tool for managing overwhelmingly large tallies, such as those we encounter regularly in reports on war or climate change.
Other sculptural works, such as [a cast of my left hand in the shape of a] Glove, use thread to cast the form of my left hand through the efforts of the free hand. The pieces play with the obstacle of sewing with literally, "one hand tied" and allow improvisational stitching and the results of awkwardness and inconvenience to cast the body part. The finished pieces are struggling and imperfect versions of traditionally hyper-perfect Victorian lace gloves. The pieces maintain the delicate, yet clumsy shapes of ghost hands, at once appearing as flawed and decaying relics, while in fact being molded from the physical hand, a method normally used to create a more substantial and permanent copy than the original flesh.

© 2004-2011 Nava Lubelski, All Rights Reserved.

1997 Tax File, 1/4" x 20" x 19", shredded paper and glue, 2007
1998 Tax File, 1/4" x 19" x 19", shredded paper and glue, 2007
1999 Tax File, 1/4" x 22" x 22", shredded paper and glue, 2007
Rejection Letters , 1" x 20" x 20", cut and shredded rejection letters, glue, 2008

© 2004-2011 Nava Lubelski, All Rights Reserved.

 Thank you guys for taking the time to look at this gifted artist's creations! We hope it inspires you to make something or do something no one else has before! You never know what you're capable of doing until you do it!

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