Gene Mason Toutsi Paper-Cutting and Collage Artist
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Using Cut Paper as Media, an Artist’s Statement

My focus has always been fine arts, art history, and art education. I attained a BFA and a MED from Virginia Commonwealth University in the early 1970’s. I have retired from teaching art in Henrico County Public Schools after thirty-three years. I now enjoy working with student teachers at Virginia Commonwealth University, and exhibiting as a resident artist at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond.

In about 1980, I participated in a workshop on “Polish Paper-Cutting”. I was inspired by the possibility of visual effects that can be achieved by various papers along with cutting and gluing techniques. Since this introduction, I have researched how various cultures have developed paper-cutting as art forms. I have also been inspired by the masterpieces of artists such as Braque, Picasso, Matisse, Romare Bearden, and Eric Carle. Although I will never give up painting, drawing, and other media, my favorite working relationship is with paper and collage.

Each piece of my work is original. I begin each paper-cutting effort with a drawing. Exacto knives and scissors are then used to create the positive/negative image. Additional papers may later be used to enhance the images or add color. I constantly search for different approaches. I love the challenge of finding solutions to my creative puzzles. I also work in a collage method in which I see and use paper as I would paint. I love the process and the search for interesting papers and materials. Also, I never hesitate to add paint and drawing to my collages.

My subject matter usually involves people, places, history, or animals. Recently, our early American history at Jamestown has been an inspiration to me. Also, I have a special love for nature and the environment that inspires my work with paper. Even in my city scenes, nature and environment are honored as elements. As in Polish paper-cutting, I often utilize the round or square format and black framework, but style and methodology have become my own.

                                                                                                                                                     Gene Mason Toutsi

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