|"The Life of the Giantess", a new exhibit rendered entirely of paper by Seattle artist Patty Grazini opens on Saturday at the Curtis Steiner gallery in Ballard. Fascinated by the true story of the 7'2" tall Elizabeth Lyska (1877-1896), Patty chose to document Lyska's brief but illustrious career by rendering it entirely of paper. Her research led her to late 19th century news reports of Elizabeth's appearances on the European stage where she became an instant celebrity for her unusual proportions. After the death of Elizabeth's peasant father when she was eleven, she became the muse of a promoter who arranged tours across Europe in order for her to support her near penniless mother and four siblings at home. Wherever she toured, she became a sensation and was loved not only for her phenomenal height, but for her beauty as well. Although she received the attentions of scientists, suitors, scholars and fans over the years, she died quietly at home away from the limelight at the youthful age of 19.|
|Artist Patty Grazini standing next to her paper sculpture of the seven foot tall Elizabeth Lyska all dressed in cossack costume.|
|Above and below: Elizabeth's ribbons, jewelry and medallions all of paper.|
|Elizabeth continued to get top billing throughout her brief career. An original playbill from the South London Palace. From the British Library Evanion Collection via The Tallest Man.|
Small works belonging to Elizabeth Lyska
Each of the works below range in size of approximately 8 to 15" in height with exception to the bouquet of roses which is nearly 30" tall. With remarkable detail each artwork is created entirely of paper, including a sewing needle and thread, and much of it consists of old paper she has collected. Every artwork in the exhibit is accompanied by a colorful short story and description written by Grazini's son, Tynan Kogane. The photos here are taken by Michael Stearns and myself.
|An automaton belonging to Elizabeth. Inside is a music box which plays Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".|
|The Elizabeth perfume, said to be named after her.|
|Elizabeth's custom made sewing kit. A gift from a French contortionist.|
|Prince Ivan's horse was said to be a favorite toy of Lyska's.|
|The toy poodle was another gift from a painter. Here Patty assembles the enclosed hoop to demonstrate how the performing poodle is assembled.|
|The front of the toy poodle's carrier.|
|A gift of an engagement ring and key presented to her by a Viennese suitor who fell madly in love with her. Below is the actual ring.|
|Acorn detail of a metal container of smelling salts belonging to Lyska.|
|There are exceptions when I stray from the nature of typographic works, books and design here on Letterology and they usually have to do with paper (or presidential elections). In full disclosure, I designed the announcement for Patty Grazini's exhibit featured at the top of this post. After writing about her work in the past, we finally had an opportunity to meet one another months later and have happily become very good friends. Originally we envisioned the announcement to be an actual ticket to one of Elizabeth's stage performances, but the line between reality and fiction was so blurred, we abandoned this idea.|
To read and see more of Patty's imaginative paper sculptures, find my earlier posts here and here. Each of the artworks seen here and many others are available for sale from Curtis Steiner.