Monday, December 14, 2015

The Venetian Paper Reliquaries of Patty Grazini

Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757), an artist who painted the portraits of all the nobility throughout Europe. 
She tragically lost her eyesight at the end of her life. This is one of the portraits she painted. Below is a tool box and stand constructed entirely of paper which might have held her brushes.

I've always thought of my friend, Patty Grazini as someone who would be equally comfortable living in the Victorian or Edwardian era, but as nobility, as she would be revered for her rarified talents. She works tirelessly all year long to craft a group of paper sculptures based upon a theme—often of real events or real people. This year, she again has a new exhibition of exquisite paper constructions currently on display until December 21st at the Curtis Steiner Gallery in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. Her latest new works are inspired by historic reliquaries, or sacred relics made to honor the dearly departed. 
     Patty explains the theme of her new group of paper sculptures by saying, "I wanted to create memorials that were reminiscent of the reliquaries that I saw while traveling in Italy over the years."
     For this new group, Patty chose to memorialize ten notable women from Venice "who lived in an age of extreme decadence and beauty—during the long decline of the Venetian Empire in the 16th to the 19th centuries." The ten women she chose to honor with her own imagined paper reliquaries were noted for their contributions to the arts and culture of Venice, yet their legacies have been nearly obscured by history. Each piece is accompanied by a small handmade book with a quote by these remarkable women, or one of their contemporaries.
     I believe this must now be Patty's tenth annual exhibit at the Curtis Steiner Gallery and the fifth time I've reported on her annual exhibitions in this space, and each of her shows have been impressively staged like a walk through history, fabricated entirely of paper. The stories she tells of people are true—and whose lives she characterizes in period paper garments, with personal possessions, and furnishings—each produced in exquisite detail by twisting, embossing, folding, decorating and manipulating beautiful found papers and ephemera. Magnifying glasses are definitely encouraged. All of these artworks seen here, and more are for sale, and yes, they are made entirely of paper. You can learn more about Patty and her work at this link, and read some of my past posts of Patty's paper productions here. 

Caterina Cornaro (1454-1510).
Through and arranged marriage, she became the last queen of Cypress.

Beads, baubles, jewels, and stones are mounted in metal-like settings, all made of various found, decorated, embossed, distressed and marbled papers and ephemera which Patty has collected from her travels and from friends.

Elena Cornaro Piscopia (1646-1684), was the first woman
in the world to earn a doctorate degree. Here, Patty Grazini features her quilled pen,
inkwell and eyeglasses as a tribute to her life's work.



Gallery owner, Curtis Steiner is an exemplary artist himself.
Not only is he a curator, painter, calligrapher, jewelry designer, and sculptor,
but he also constructs the most imaginative window displays of paper each year. This year's display features a paper garland of large, gold leaves made of folded text pages above a display of
his hand lettered holiday cards. The white tramp art table below this is made of old
wooden thread spools—another sight to behold.


  1. Very nice to see a new string of posts. I try to check in regularly to see what new beautiful and ingenious things you show us.

    1. Such welcome words to me! Thank you for sharing, and I hope to continue doing the same periodically.
      All the best!

  2. Thanks for bringing this work to light - amazing! I had no idea there was such genius so close to me - and I'll continue to watch this site for more of paper and ephemera. Thanks so much for this post! Kristin from Wallingford


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