Paper marbling is the practice of applying paint to the surface of a thickened water bath, manipulating the paint with tools if desired, and transferring the print by laying a piece of paper or fabric onto the surface of the water. Historically, marbled papers are used as the endpapers of books. The use of marbled paper - abstract, psychedelic, sublime - to begin and end books fascinates me. I believe that the same human impulse to marble the pages of a Quran in the 1500s (some of the earliest examples of marbling) is present in my own work, a form of self-expression that is pointedly non-representational and yet references patterns that are observable in the universe from the microscopic level to the greatest scales of space. Marbling puts us in touch with these universal patterns. It also provides, like much great art, an armature for color and form, which are in turn a space where it is possible to encode feeling, meaning, time, and touch.
Sheryl Oppenheim was born in 1983, raised in Orlando, Florida, and now lives in New York City. She is a paper marbler and maker of illegible books, an idea she first became interested in after seeing the work of Bruno Munari, and through her proximity to books, bookbinders, and marbled paper at her first job in New York, at a bookbinding supply house. She began marbling paper in 2011, and began learning suminagashi in 2016.
Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Watson Library, the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Art Library, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, among others. Her artist books are available through Small Editions, her friends and frequent collaborators. She also collaborates with the writer and poet Janelle Poe.
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Pleased to be included in BOOKS: Art, Craft and Community, published by the London Centre for Book Arts. Available in the US on Nov 1 or buy online through LCBA.
I am teaching Suminagashi classes online with the Center for Book Arts every other month. Please visit the CBA site to learn more.
I am now teaching in person classes in acrylic marbling and Suminagashi again at the 92Y. View the current class schedule here.