Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test-Sherbert
Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 1.5″
Media: three-dimensional, five-color
lithographic monoprint collage
Matthew Shlian’s Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test- Sherbert, 2016 employs Shlian’s characteristic use of paper folds to convey energy through movement. Here, Shlian uses the same guiding pattern as in Winter and Murmur, but with a more whimsical approach; the title of the work suggests a bright and summery dessert, caught in the tension of the suggested heat of the colors. While the changing tones of red, orange, and yellow are reminiscent of a topographical map, without any sense of time or site specificity, Shlian’s work transcends containment.
Matthew Shlian’s work is derived from the intersectionality between art and science, where Shlian uses engineering skills and the aid of scientists at the University of Michigan to create intricate, geometric paper structures. While the process of executing each work is contingent upon precise measurements and a definitive degree of planning, Shlian describes that often, his final products are conceived from flaws that occur as the work is coming together. “Along the way something usually goes wrong and a mistake becomes more interesting than the original idea and I work with that instead. I’d say my starting point is curiosity; I have to make the work in order to understand it. If I can completely visualize my final result I have no reason to make it—I need to be surprised.” Shlian engages with paper in a way that imbues movement into a material often associated with two dimensionality; the finished products are kinetic both for their visual dynamics and in the way the folds physically project from the background. Shlian works in a variety of colors, but often defaults to white—where the added flatness of the color encourages viewers to examine the work more closely and establish their own readings of the work’s depth.
by Keira Seidenberg