Do you remember cutting paper snowflakes in school? Artist Rogan Brown has taken that simple craft and merged it with his love of complexity to create organic paper art.
Cut entirely by hand, Rogan’s organic paper art is an exploration of the boundaries between observational studies and artistic interpretations; and revolves mainly around micro-organisms and plant life. The patterns may feel familiar, but also a bit alien. You’re not looking at a replica of a microbe, but an interpretation of one. And that distinction, Rogan says, is important.
“Both art and science seek to represent truth but in different ways,” says Rogan. “It’s the difference between understanding a landscape by looking at a detailed relief map and understanding it by looking at a painting by Cezanne or Van Gogh.”
Starting each construction by sketching detailed designs, Rogan then mocks them up in larger pen and ink drawings. Afterwards he begins to think about his organic paper art in 3D. Each structure is composed of layers of paper, which are stacked using foam board spacers. This floating effect allows him to build a complex colony of organisms that appear to grow beyond the confines of their housing. One piece can take him up to five painstaking months to complete.
“I want to communicate my fascination with the immense complexity and intricacy of natural forms and this is why the process behind my work is so important. I’ve chosen paper as a medium because it captures perfectly that mixture of delicacy and durability; that for me characterizes the natural world.”
Last year, he met with a group of microbiologists to plan an exhibition on the human micro-biome. He became fascinated by the hidden world of microbes and the strange shapes of pathogens. Rogan’s interest in humans’ fear of the invisible microbiological world led him to spend four months creating his most recent project. Titled Outbreak, the organic paper art depicts an array of interconnected sculptures based on the smallest structures found within the human body: cells, microbes, pathogens, and neurons.
You can see more details of his organic paper art on his portfolio.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.