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Puerto Rican Artist Shares Her Passion for Paper

*All links lead to Spanish texts, unless otherwise noted.

During her workshops, Puerto Rican artist Aydasara Ortega, a current resident of New York, offers a “time out,” or “toque de queda” [en], during which participants learn to create their own beautiful handmade paper. Ortega invites students to “reclaim their physical and mental space,” and to put the mystery back into whatever they create with their hands, with their time…and this is no small feat.

To accomplish this, Aydasara uses social networks to spread the word about her artistic campaign and to exchange ideas about related topics. She also writes two different blogs, lomismoquefuesiempreobjeto and aydasara, in which she displays the various collages she has created with the utmost sensitivity and precision on her personally hand-crafted paper.

She also shares these fascinating works of art on several cybergalleries, and new pieces come to light each month in the magazine Cruce.  Even her Facebook wall has been transformed into an exhibit space, thanks to the touch of beauty which Aydasara creates and shares here.  It was through Facebook, in fact, that we had the conversation with her that we're sharing with you today.

We hope you enjoy it!

Obra de su serie Desde luego.

A work from her series titled “Desde Luego.”

Global Voices (GV): How long have you been working on your blogs?

Aydasara Ortega (AO): Hago dos blogs: lomismoquefuesiempreobjeto y aydasara. Empecé con el segundo en el 2008. Como regalo de cumpleaños, alguien me dijo “Mira, Aydasara, es como un diario y puedes crearlo a tu manera muy libremente.” Imaginate, qué invitación. Comencé entonces a describir e ilustrar mi proceso creativo.  Luego, en el 2009 quise hacer uno enfocado en los talleres que estaba dando: jabones y velas artesanales así como papel hecho a mano.

I write two blogs: lomismoquefuesiempreobjeto and aydasara. I started the second one in 2008. As a sort of birthday present, someone said to me, “Look, Aydasara, it's just like writing a journal, and you can create it in your own way, as free-form as you want.”  Imagine turning down an invitation like that! So I started to describe and illustrate my own creative process. After that, in 2009, I wanted to focus one of the blogs on the workshops I was teaching: artistic soaps and candles as well as handmade paper.

"Quién mira fijamente al mar ya está navegando un poco."  Obra de Aydasara que aparece en el portal Café de la Pensée

“Anyone who gazes into the sea has already set sail.” A piece by Aydasara appearing on the home page of Café de la Pensée

GV: How do you organize your content?

AO: El blog aydasara es más personal pues resultó como un diario, donde documentaba acontecimientos en los que encuentro algo muy significativo, digno de recordar y compartir. lomismoquefuesiempreobjeto está más enfocado al arte de hacer papel, arte al que le doy completa dedicación desde el 2008.

AO: The blog aydasara is more personal, since it has turned out more like a journal where I documented events that held significance for me, things worth noting and sharing. lomismoquefuesiempreobjeto centers more on the art of making paper, which I've been completely dedicated to since 2008.

GV: In both blogs, you display your work along with a word or phrase  from a text. Tell us a bit about the process of relating these excerpts to your art.

AO: ¿
Cuál viene primero a mi mente, el texto o la imagen? Es una pregunta que siempre me resulta curiosa, pero ya no me desafía. Quiero decir que están ahí y toman forma simultáneamente.

Los textos y los pedazos que dan forma a cada imagen los encuentro en libros también encontrados, aunque siempre he sospechado son ellos los que me encuentran a mí. En los blogs, casi siempre incluyo una o unas de las letras del texto (y a veces en la imagen), letras que sombreo de un color distinto.  Estas letras sombreadas te llevan al enlace donde puedes encontrar el texto completo.

 

AO: Which comes to my mind first, the text or the image? This has always been a curious question for me, but it's not as much of a challenge now. I mean that both are there and they take shape simultaneously.

The texts and the pieces that give form to each image, well, I get them from “found” books, although I've always suspected that they are finding me. In the blogs, I almost always include one or more of the letters from the text (and sometimes from the image), letters that I shade in a distinct color. These shaded letters lead to an Internet link where you can find the complete text.

Obra del artista puertorriqueño Rubén Rivera hecha sobre una hoja creada por Aydasara.

A work by Puerto Rican artist Rubén Rivera on paper created by Aydasara.

GV: Why do you make paper by hand?

AO: Porque su devenir me resulta fascinante. La palabra devenir y su significado: “La realidad entendida como proceso o cambio, que a veces se opone a ser” (regalo de mi amigo Rubén Rivera) describe bien el arte de hacer papel a mano y lo que podría significar para el hacedor.

Hacerlo intriga, atiene, detiene, atrapa y, a la vez, da rienda suelta.

Ahora, ¿por qué a las personas les invita y se dedican a hacer papel a mano?

En general, las personas le dan atención al papel como le dan, digamos, al aire.  Así como una brisa despierta los sentidos, una hoja de papel hecha a mano hace lo mismo.  Es decir, hay algo especial acerca de un objeto hecho a mano.  Nos da la sensación de la persona detrás del producto en lugar de la máquina, y valoramos ese sentido cada vez más con cada avance tecnológico.  El papel es muy común, por lo que una hoja hecha a mano, inusual y diferente, es mucho más que excepcional, es única y lleva en sí un mensaje.

AO: Because the evolution, the process, is so fascinating for me. The word “evolution” and its meaning, “reality understood as process or change, which sometimes refuses to be” (courtesy of my friend Rubén Rivero), is a good description of the art of making paper by hand and what it means for the maker.

Making paper intrigues, delays, traps, and, once in a while, allows free rein.

So then, what inspires people to make paper by hand and dedicate themselves to it?

In general, people notice paper in the same way they notice, let's say, air. Just as a breeze can awaken the senses, a simple sheet of paper made by hand can do the same. In other words, there's something special about a hand-made object. It gives us the sense of the person behind the product rather than the machine, and we value that sense even more with every new technological advance. Paper is very common, so a sheet made by hand, unusual and distinct, is far more than exceptional, it is unique, and carries a message inside it.

GV: Tell us about the experience of sharing your work in places like California, Detroit, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Foto publicada en Facebook por Aydasara Ortega

Photo published on Facebook by Aydasara Ortega

AO: He tenido la maravillosa oportunidad de exhibir mi trabajo y dar talleres de papel hecho a mano, a los que llamo Toque de Queda a través de organizaciones, y en todos estos lugares el papel se ha quedado con el canto.  Es decir que el hacer un hermosa hoja de papel con nuestras propias manos, y hacer de ésta lo que la imaginación invite ha sido siempre una experiencia deslumbrante para aquellos con los que he tenido el honor de compartirlo.

AO: I've had the marvelous opportunity to exhibit my work and present paper-making workshops [en], which I call Toque de Queda, for different organizations, and in all these places, papermaking has been a hit. That is, making a beautiful sheet of paper with our own hands, and then making that into whatever our imagination dictates, has always been an enlightening experience for those I've had the honor to share it with.

GV:  What are your next steps?

AO: Estaré ofreciendo talleres gratuitos el 27 y 28 de julio como parte del tercer New York City Poetry Festival.  También daré un curso intensivo de fabricación de papel, junto a Ruben Rivera, del 5 al 9 de agosto en la Liga de Estudiantes de Arte de Nueva York.

Y seguiré compartiendo mis creaciones y enviando mi propuesta para un Toque de Queda a toda persona y lugar posible.  Uno nunca sabe quien se motive a maniobrar.

AO: I'll be offering free workshops on the 27th and 28th of July as part of the third New York City Poetry Festival [en]. I'll also be teaching an intensive course on paper-making, along with Rubén Rivera, from August 5th-9th at the Art Students League of New York [en].

I'll continue to share my creations and send my Toque de Queda proposal to as many individuals and organizations as possible. You never know who might be inspired to get involved.

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