Artist Statement- Ron Nelson

I was visiting my compadre, Señor Juan, at his home on the hill. He had mixed up some paper pulp in a wheelbarrow using old newspapers. He was spreading the pulp on the ground around his rose bushes, extolling the paper pulp’s virtue. The pulp as ground cover, the Señor explained, kept in the ground moisture and kept out the weeds. I saw something else as the senor worked: cheap, plentiful casting material. I was immediately seized with the possibilities.

It has been almost ten years since I started experimenting with paper pulp, and this has turned into a full-time occupation. Each piece begins with a clay template, which is the original drawing. A mold of latex is made of this clay relief. Newspaper is mixed with water to break it down into a paper mâche-like pulp. House paint is added as a fixative to hold everything together. After the casting process begins, each piece takes about a month to complete as the artwork is built up of layers, and a lot of time is spent drying. Working in the arid Arizona heat helps cure the casting.

My cast paper pieces are made almost entirely of recycled materials: shredded newspaper mixed with water, house paint to bind it together, with mill ends for the framing. The casting is primed and the last layer of coloring is applied.

I received my BFA from Hayward State University in California, and my MFA in ceramics and glass from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Over the years I have worked in a variety of media including ceramics, glass, fiberglass, neon, wood, acrylics, oil, and paper.