Artist: Blaine Scot Prow
Media: Foam board, Bristol paper, charcoal paper
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino
About the Artist
Blaine is an artist of complexity, but his art style is more simplistic. He uses the bare minimum of materials in his works; just paper, foam board, and something to cut with. The true beauty comes in the way that Blaine folds the paper he cuts partially from its parent sheet. He turns it into shapes I would never have seen in the flat paper. His works are reminiscent of origami, but in some ways with more significance. Blaine was always interested in origami, how one could fold a simple square of paper into the most complex of shapes. But he wanted to go deeper with this exhibit. Blaine may be studying Studio Art as an undergraduate at CSULB, but in high school his interests were far less artistic. Blaine’s favorite subject was Geometry. He excelled in the subject because he was always fascinated with the relationship between 2-D and 3-D shapes. This is what he wanted to show in his art that can’t be shown in origami. The way the simplest cuts in a paper can yield such complex forms with just a few folds and the right lighting. But they are by no means simple to make. Always true to his love of mathematics, Blaine meticulously plans out each fold before making it a reality. In his sketchbooks are pages of drawing detailing the mathematical relationship each fold will have with its neighbors. A piece can take hours to create, but with his dedicated practice, Blaine has done some in mere minutes. He prefers to burn the midnight oil when he works, as he never chooses to be up early. Blaine’s art interests expand into other fields as well. He loves the media of photography, and of course anything to do with paper. Blaine has even gotten into music. He is able to play many string instruments, especially base guitar, and also has some skill with a keyboard. Blaine knows life is not solely play however. He has a clear career in mind. His dream is to work directly for a company as a hired graphic illustrator. He would prefer to work in house, instead of in a studio so he can work his own hours. Hopefully he can incorporate his talent with paper into his designs.
Blaine had many unique creations, but luckily for the sake of writing space they all have similar themes. To begin with I will describe the basic process by which all of the paper pieces were made by detailing how Blaine’s work Triangle Square was created. Blaine started with a flat piece of Bristol Board and cut partial a square out of it, leaving one edge connected to the parent paper. He then brought the square up and around itself in a series of complex folds to form a new, 3-D shape: a three sided pyramid. He then placed this paper with the attached pyramid over black charcoal paper on foam board. This was done to highlight the shape that was originally cut from the paper, before it was folded. All of Blaine’s art is heavily focused on contrast. There is no color, only black and pure white. This lends a sterile, clean look to all his pieces. Another feature is a complete absence of all organic lines. Every edge is perfectly straight, and each cut is made with a machine’s precision. Each folding is carefully ordered, particularly Factory, a piece with cube after cube aligned on a grid. Overall the pieces seem very alien, something that was unlikely to be made by human hands. They could be objects thought up and created by a computer, not so much by an organic form. Each work looks well connected to the geometry that it is based on. They are definitely mathematical, and look to have required heavy preparation and practice to assure not a single flaw was in the end product.
Blaine’s work may be based on minimalism, but to the scarce detail in his work he has assigned deep meaning. His art is rooted in his childhood, when he said he had great interest in the shapes of wooden blocks. And in high school, when he began to become fascinated by the mathematical theorems he learned, along with the more complex shapes. Geometry was his best subject, and he still uses it today to calculate the precisely folded corners some of his works employ. In order to highlight the precision of the pieces, Blaine selected only the shades black and white. After taking color theory class he learned about the role color plays in art, and how it can sometimes detract from the artist’s message depending on what he or she is trying to convey. Blaine wanted to show the concrete connection between the shape he cut and the shape he folded. So for him the choice of using only black and white in his works was simple. This brings about the topic of what Blaine was trying to share with his audience in his paper works. When I asked him if he was trying to show how important the subject of math is in schools, I was originally frustrated when his response was no. He never found himself a huge advocate for more or fewer math classes despite his art being based in math. But I was satisfied with his reasoning he gave me. What he wanted was for people to think differently. He said so many people see a 2-D object as only that. Blaine says too many see a great disconnect between 2-D and 3-D shapes. This is partially why he is less intrigued by origami. It doesn’t show how the end product, with its volume and depth, is connected to its flat paper origin. With his work, Blaine wanted to bridge this gap between the dimensions. His very first piece, Triangle Square, showed how from a square cut, a pyramid with three triangles could be formed. His works may be simple in form, but they are truly amazing when given a simple analysis. Blaine seeks to and succeeds in showing his audience that one can never see 2-D and 3-D objects as completely separate again.
Synthesis/ My Experience
I generally shy away from any art I find overly simplistic, too rigid, or colorless. So when I saw that Extrusions was the only exhibit open, I confess that I was not looking forward to writing about it. But my Achilles’s heel is making hasty judgments, and that is exactly what I did with this exhibit. I judged before I could even grasp the meaning of what was presented to me. If there had been other exhibits open, and I had discounted this one with a simple glance, I would have missed a gallery that is surprisingly relevant to my studies now. This semester I am taking my first organic chemistry class. In my entire school career I have never had a class that asked my to be able to understand 3-D relationships from a printed picture more than I have in this class. Every lesson in that class is some new challenge. Often I am given no more than a few jagged lines, but in my mind I must visualize this as a very real and tangible molecular structure. The previous lectures have focused on the drawing of Newman Projections. Though it is drawn with just a few lines and circle, one must be able to know what the molecule would look like from any angle, making 3-D visualization essential. At this point in my life where being able to connect the two dimensions is so necessary, the purpose behind Blaine’s exhibit became especially poignant to me. His struggle to connect flat shapes with dimensional ones was all too similar to my struggle to picture a molecule drawn with bare lines with a real, dynamic molecule. We work from different subjects; math and science. But I find our connection is no weaker for it. My purpose is to understand molecules, and Blaine’s is to understand geometric shapes. However, we strive for the same end goal. To understand and to show others that the flat page may have more dimensions than meet the eye.