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Isaac Brynjegard-bialik

Artist Statement

My work explores the role of narrative in the development and expression of identity. I work in paper because I like its fragility and its place as our primary medium for telling and sharing stories across generations. It is both ephemeral and constant.

I work with the stories and traditions primarily of the Jewish people, though other peoples and cultures enter into my papercuts as well. These are filtered through the twin lenses of the traditional art form of papercutting and contemporary pop culture storytelling techniques.

My work is visual biblical commentary; I call it “paper midrash.” I always begin with text — often bible and other traditional sources, but also the words of poets and musicians. My work is influenced by elements of the natural world and how tradition understands its connection to the Divine: for example the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai.

I layer cut-up comic books into my work, drawing parallels between comic book mythologies and religious traditions to delve into the stories that make us human. Comic superheroes exist outside of the “natural” world, be they visitors from other planets or people whose powers stem from strange scientific accidents; they have weaknesses and flaws, and their struggles are often a metaphor for the human experience. I bring these different types of stories together in the layers of my papercuts, searching for new meanings in these combinations.

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