Reverence for the Infinite

Eric Standley: Crafting fragility

In fashion, as a snow-white rose, lay then

Before my view the saintly multitude…

Meanwhile that other host, that soar aloft to gaze

And celebrate his glory, whom they love,

Hover’d around; and, like a troop of bees,

Amid the vernal sweets alighting now…

Flew downward to the mighty flow’r, or rose

From the redundant petals, streaming back

Unto the steadfast dwelling of their joy. -Dante Paradise

The great rose windows of Gothic cathedrals and the radiating, rhythmic patterns of Islamic architecture, which inspire Eric Standley’s art, are about much more than visual beauty. In Christian art, the rose represents the union of the divine and Man; the scrolling, calligraphic motifs of Islamic architecture symbolize the word of God.

Standley’s extraordinarily complex paper-cut sculptures are meant to invoke the same “reverence for the infinite” as the centuries-old influences that gave them the power to become inspiring beacons of faith.

As befits a child of engineers, Standley’s creations rely as much on mathematics and technology as they do on esthetics. His intricate laser-cut artworks are made from 250 or more sheets of archival paper-- each drawn and deliberately cut to be part of the whole—and can take a year to produce.

But the impact of Standley’s work reaches beyond this technical tour de force. “Obsessively detailed fractions and broadly holistic concerns are consciously separated but equally vital in my work,” Standley explains.

The result is paradoxical and powerful, as the compression of massive architectural forms in his unique creations evokes an uncanny harmony between the permanence of stone and the fragility of paper.

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