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Living Paper Creatures

Artist Returns to Spartanburg to Exhibit Papier Maché Animals

Grace Jerome Lloyd of Charlotte, NC will showcase her menagerie of papier maché animals in the exhibition “Living Paper Creatures” at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg April 3-28, giving the public her interpretation of the wild kingdom -- everything from realistic horses to unreal creatures of her imagination.

The free and public reception will be Saturday, April 14, 5-9 p.m. at the venue, 578 West Main Street Spartanburg. The exhibit can be seen Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at no charge.

The 23-year-old art teacher will display 21 paper maché sculptures that will range from realistic tigers and zebras to purposely abstract horses and creatures of fancy. Other animals to be seen include deer, domesticated and wild canines, birds, elephants, giraffes, foxes, sharks, and reptiles. All of the works will be for sale from $100 to $500.

Often made of recycled materials, her work has been described as “realistic… amazing… and larger than life.” All of the creations were made during the past two years in the artist’s living room, when she had time outside of her art teaching duties. She hopes people will “get up close and personal with” with her work and will experience the “wonder” of the creative process.

Although she is not a member of West Main Artists Co-op, the Pennsylvania native did live in Spartanburg, graduating from Chesnee High School in 2012. She later received her bachelor’s degree in art education from USC-Upstate, and she is currently studying for her master’s degree through Xavier University. “I started drawing when I was first able to pick up a pencil,” she said. “I’m currently the art teacher at John Taylor Williams Secondary Montessori School, and I’m always improving my craft in all mediums to teach new and interesting stuff.” Her artwork has been showcased in the annual Artist’s Guild of Spartanburg’s juried shows, Piedmont Interstate Fair, USC Upstate galleries, and Charlotte’s National Arts Program Juried Show.

“I am very happy the Cooperative offered me the gallery space and noticed my potential,” she said. “It is an amazing place for artists to work, display, and collaborate. I feel it is giving me a chance to show off my art to more than just friends and family.”

In her artist’s statement, Lloyd said: “I make art because the combination of my creativity and the personality of my materials. I dabble in all mediums of 2D and 3D art because I am a teacher who believes in knowing every aspect of what I teach, but my animals are my best. I hope to make animals that are indifferent from their real counterparts. I love to see the looks on people’s faces when they see one of my pieces and how they gravitate over and want to touch them. My goal is to become more skilled with making realistic pieces.

“When I create a piece, I start with a list. I have a whole menagerie of animals I would love to be up close and personal with one day. Each piece starts with a ball of newspaper and grows from there. Some of the larger pieces need cardboard skeletons to support their size. From there, they get larger, more complex, and more detailed. Once the form is anatomically correct, I can papier mache the whole piece. I love this material because it is 100 percent natural and allows me to mold to every ridge. This process takes time, and once I mache a piece, it has to dry for several days. Once it is solid, I can paint. The depth of value and array of colors I use help bring the piece to life. Once all is said and done, I can look at the piece, assess its personality, and give it a fitting name.

“Currently, I am making heads and smaller full bodies. I turn out one to two pieces a month depending on the size. The large full bodies have to wait until I have extended periods of free time. I also have big plans in the works. I’m looking to branch out and try pieces that hang from the ceiling, have more action in their poses, and try puppeteering. One of my major projects for summer break is going to be an old-time handspring wolf puppet. I experimented first with articulation by making a papier mache marionette horse. As I make new pieces, I retire old ones by selling them or donating them.”

Samples of her work can be seen on Facebook, searching for “living paper creatures.”

West Main Artists Co-op is a nonprofit and all-volunteer arts agency on Main Street Spartanburg. It is housed in the old West Main Baptist Church and is continuously renovated by its members who are 50-plus strong. It provides affordable work spaces for more than 30 artists in the 20,000-square-foot building. In addition, the Co-op has the largest collection of locally made art for sale with extremely diverse buying options, including pottery, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, quilts. Each month, the Co-op hosts three new exhibits by its members and nonmembers, some of whom enjoy regional and even national recognition.

For more information about Lloyd’s exhibit, “Living Paper Creatures,” please visit online WestMainArtists.org.