The Ann Weber Project

In 2009, Chris and I spent 8 days in San Francisco. We had a wonderful visit, and for me it was my first return after having lived there as a pre-schooler. We stayed at the Parc 55 Hotel, near Union Square. Just off the elevator were two large basket-like sculptures. Chris asked me one day if I had looked at them, and I assured her I had. “Did you see what they are made of?”, Chris asked. “Ratan….. or some kind of basket  material,” I replied. “No”, Chris replied, “Cardboard!” NOW she had my attention! I suddenly took a new interest in these ‘baskets’!

We took several photographs of these sculptures, with the  possibility of creating a project for my Design II. or Sculpture classes at West Liberty University. For some reason I let the whole idea get pushed to the back burner, and forgot about it.

Then this past December I was planning projects for my spring Design II.class, and I ran across the photos of the cardboard sculptures. I decided that the first thing I needed to do was see if I could find out the name of the artist who created these pieces. After just a short time Googling various key words, I found the creator! California artist Ann Weber! Here are a few words describing Ann and her work, from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on line:

Artist Ann Weber, a delicate woman, relies on some indelicate tools: a $25 Arrow P-22 stapler from Ace Hardware, a box cutter, shellac and loads of cardboard pulled from trash bins. Weber cuts cardboard into strips and staples pieces together until forms take shape. Sometimes the shapes are primal, looking like pods and seeds. Sometimes they are woven or coiled abstract figures. Sometimes they are smooth, elegant and towering shapes, resembling members of a wedding party awaiting a portrait.

“I was drawn to the challenge of making beauty from something so common and ubiquitous as cardboard,” said Weber, whose path to creating sculptures from cardboard began with her first pottery class in the 1970s, “I’m from the Midwest, where the saying is we can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

Weber’s works range in size from 12 inches high to 16 feet tall. While some of her pieces are finished in bronze or fiberglass, most are plain cardboard preserved and strengthened with shellac. She fishes around trash bins near her Emeryville loft for much of the cardboard, she said. She has come to see the difference in cardboard made in different countries, and looks for cardboard faded in uneven ways by the sun.

I shared Ann Weber’s story with my Design II. class, along with images of her sculptures. After planting that seed, the students put pencil to paper and worked out their ideas. From that point on the studio was a flurry of cut cardboard, and the air was filled with the sound of clicking staplers. While most of the students did use staplers, a handful did the project using a hot glue gun. On behalf of the Design II. classes, and myself, I would like to thank Ann Weber for both her inspiring sculptures and her words of encouragement regarding this project. Here are the results:

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