2024 Artist Statement

Amanda Degener’s work draws attention to nature, and it evokes emotions towards the environment that we also feel for humans: love, empathy, compassion, and care.

The ancient matrix of handmade paper fits well with the spiritual, holistic, historic, and natural ideas that inspire her art. The artist’s intention is to create a visual example of the inter-relationship between environment in both the material and spiritual world.

During this dialogue she cooks, beats, colors, moulds, presses, and dries what started as a plant. Depending how the fiber is prepared it can look like fragile translucent skin, expensive leather, or even metal. The plants and natural dyes are a mixture of fiber, sun, soil, and rain. While she processes the materials there is an exchange of Qi with the materials; her spirit and heart get infused into the work. Because of the process involved with hand papermaking making art with paper seems more about noticing than manipulating.

The labor-intensive process of making paper by hand helps Degener, and others who view her work, to remember that time is not as the 21st century seems to demand. The chaotic world may be speeding by, ever faster and ever changing, but our needs have not changed. Reflection, nearness, care, and love are found in slowness. Slowness is where we are renewed, where we sense ourselves in the world and find the boundaries of our own existence. This “doing” seems to include undoing. When engaged with making, the incessant banter of the brain is gone or no longer dominates. The busy hand quiets the brain; it brings the mind to a calmer state. This slowness has been one threshold to freedom and timelessness. Slowness is where we are renewed. There is a restfulness of working till things are fully resolved.

Something as simple as water dripping from the paper mould, can help one to listen and accept the flow of life. Effortless things, like a daily practice of Tai Chi, can teach us to simply let go of trying to accomplish, be in the moment, and feel the way forward.