Janelle Washington

All images courtesy of the artist

All images courtesy of the artist

The papercut artworks by Virginia artist Janelle Washington are not only visually stunning, they are rich in meaning. Washington’s compositions address issues of beauty and history in her African American heritage. Each piece is cut from a single sheet of paper using carefully arranged shapes that transform mere paper into art. On her website, Washington explains that she sees this transformation as a reminder of “her ancestors, how through unpretentious beginnings a transformation can take place creating something extremely extraordinary.”

Looking at the portraits here, I am struck by how Washington is able to create a range of expressions using these carefully arranged elements. I also appreciate how she has been able to add color to the paper after cutting, and manages to do so with such a careful hand so as to not detract from the design itself. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I have!

Discussion for Kids

  • After looking closely at each piece, what story or idea do you think the artist is communicating?

  • Most of the pieces below are composed of black, gold and red. What do the combinations of these colors make you think about?






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