Paper Mache Rock Sculptures

Paper Mache Rock Sculptures by ©Susan McCaslin
Paper Mache Rock Sculptures      ©Susan McCaslin

I have been making paper mache rock sculptures for the last 4-5 years. These are small, they fit in your hand. I have also made large ones, up to 60 inches tall.

Originally they were made to accompany a twig drawing installation.  Building from scratch is something I really enjoy, the sense that what was never there is suddenly in my hands is a great feeling and because these are paper, the painting of the surface is another element to the work that I enjoy. 

I am very process oriented. Mixing the wheat paste (flour and water) with my bare hands is the first and most delicious moment. Balling up the newspaper and taping it together. Applying the first of many layers. Refining and defining the soft spots that become the indentations.  Often I wish people could watch me work to get the sense of what pleasure I derive from the process.

Artspace New Haven Annual Gala

Rock Surface Drawings – 12″ x 10″

I was asked to donate a piece of work to the Artspace New Haven Gala, an annual fundraiser for Artspace. I brought both large and small versions of these rock surface works on paper. Betty Jarvis, an art historian and curator, was choosing art and I really enjoyed meeting her. Her appreciation of my work meant a lot to me and if she is reading my blog, here is an official thank you to her. I look forward to meeting her again at the gala.

The image above is a detail of six 12″ x 10″ drawings of rock surfaces that have been marked or have had small pieces of paper attached. I have recently finished large versions of flat rock surfaces, larger than those above. The new ones are 30″ x 22.”

To achieve the effect, I work with wet paper.  I soak the paper in a water bath tinted by ink and I manipulate the paper to create an uneven, rocky surface. 

These works are available through the Flatfile project at Artspace New Haven.

Serape Underpainting

Susan McCaslin - Underpainting for SERAPE
Underpainting for SERAPE

New piece being developed. Dyed newspaper, gesso, yarn with small elements that represent the hidden messages, thoughts traumas beneath the protective surface to come.

IVA Panel at Silvermine

Program for the 'Legacy of Silvermine: Artists, Arts and Community' Exhibition and events
Program for the ‘Legacy of Silvermine: Artists, Arts and Community’ Exhibition and events

Today I was honored to be part of a panel discussion at Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT.  The panel was paying tribute to the Institute for Visual Artists (IVA). The IVA began ran from  1985 through 2002 and was the brainchild of Bonnie Woit. 

The IVA was started as a way for artists to gather together once a month to listen and learn from speakers who were established artists, art critics, curators and other art professionals.

Here is a partial list of speakers: Robert Altman, Gregory Amenoff, Will Barnet, Antonio Frasconi, Suzi Gablik, Cleve Gray, Lester Johnson, Michael Mazur. George McNeil, Jed Perl, Gabor Peterdi, Joan Semmel, Joan Snyder, William Zimmer, David Levinthal, and more.


Opening Day at the Whitney Biennial 2017

Whitney Biennial 2017 • Photo by Susan McCaslin ©2017
Whitney Biennial 2017 • Photo by Susan McCaslin ©2017

Opening day at the Whitney Biennial and my first visit to the new location. All that I heard was true. The building is perfect for looking at art. The location is amazing and the restaurants are fab fab fab. Ate two meals there because we stayed all day. But I miss the old building. Even with the amazing vistas and the huge windows etc, the new location lacks the character of the Breuer building. But enough on that and no more looking back.

The show itself was accessible and easy to view. I never felt put off by anything, even the violent virtual reality that did make me dizzy as they said it would. Warning… Hold On!!! 

So I had a great time, loved the work but now that I am back home, I am having trouble recalling a lot of the show.  So I went back to the Whitney site, which is very robust,  where I saw the work again and read about the artists and even listened to some interviews with the artists.  

The one thing that did stick with me was the DebtFair installation. It really brought home the fact that so many get rich off of art (real estate being the other way to become a billionaire) and there is nothing set up financially to help artists support themselves as they work towards success. And then if they do make it, will they ever make enough money to pay off all their debt? 

With Trump spending almost $3 million on each visit to Mar-A-Lago, does any of this make sense? How do we accept the relationship of debt to artist income when the government is spending so much just moving the President back and forth for 2-3 day visits to Florida?

I don’t know whether to fight or give up.


I am currently exhibiting at Crown Gallery in Bridgeport CT.
Exhibiting now at Crown Gallery.