Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Artist explores an interesting coping mechanism with ‘Witti-Schism’

For many, paper-cutting is a task, whether it’s cutting out paper for a class poster board or creating intricate snowflakes for festive dorm room decor. But third-year Illustration Bachelor of Fine Arts student Natalie Rosen, papercutting has turned it into an art form.

Sixty five paper-cut houses and over 800 individually cut paper pieces hang from the ceiling in one of Rosen’s several paper artworks in her gallery “Witti-Schism” at the School of Art Galleries at Long Beach State.

Her gallery dives into the idea of herself — and others — going through a mental breakdown but using humor to “soften the blow.” Rosen combined paper, sculptures and drawings to translate her feelings of frustration and grief, as well as the humor that helps her deal with it.

In her elaborate papercut house piece titled “Commons,” Rosen displays a long snake weaving in and out of the houses as a symbolization for the conflict and pain that affects different families. This idea of dealing with pain and conflict is something that Rosen has dealt with herself and has also witnessed with her friends and peers, and thought it would be interesting to bring it to life in her art.

“[‘Commons’] encourages people to empathize with each other because you never really realize what’s going on in somebody’s life,” Rosen said.

Also an Illustration BFA major at LBSU, senior Crisselle Mendiola took special notice to this piece as she wandered through the gallery and admired the attention to detail.

“I wish I could do this 3D intricacy,” Mendiola said. “It’s so crazy how clean the cuts are and it’s so well planned and thought out.”

Rosen’s detailed craftsmanship with paper-cutting is done through sketching designs, creating copies, cutting paper with x-acto knives or lasers and then piecing each part together. Before fully immersing herself in papercutting, Rosen practiced watercoloring and pencil drawing during her undergraduate program at LBSU. She discovered her knack for the art form and realized that it “just kind of clicked” with her.

“It was something that I grew over the years and developed,” Rosen said. “When you translate a drawing to paper-cutting there’s always something that’s lost in translation between and makes it look different and it’s kind of exciting.”

Taking a turn from the serious and exploring the realm of humor, Rosen also features several animal heads with corresponding names such as “Fear,” “Chaos,” “Relief” and more to explain the variations of humor. Rosen studied theories of humor over the summer and thought that it would be interesting to personify the different ways people find comedy through life by creating animal figures.

“I thought it was a good way to represent abstract ideas,” Rosen said.

A visitor at Rosen’s gallery, fourth-year Design major at LBSU Mike McCrone admired the combination of art styles in “Witti-Schism,” and said he respected the work put into the gallery.

“It’s really inspiring to see other peoples work,” McCrone said.

Whether an art student or not, Rosen hopes the overall message people take away from her work is to acknowledge their feelings and reflect on the ways humor can be used to deal with problems.

“[I want guests] to think about comedy and how it affects you and the people around you,” Rosen said. “[Comedy] is a positive thing that can help you deal with personal problems.”

“Witti-Schism” and other student galleries can be viewed in the Fine Arts Building at LBSU on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m.

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