Writer: Gem Barton
Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer, teacher and collaborator. After graduating from Alfred University in 2002, Matthew spent three years working as a paper engineer in the field of commercial design. There he made movable paper contraptions, from popup books to greeting cards to artist books and kinetic sculptures. In 2006 he received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Currently he operates a design studio in Ann Arbor Michigan, teaches Foundations and Paper Engineering at the University of Michigan and works as a visiting research scholar at the University’s Material Science department.
Words from the artist Matt Shlian:
“As a paper engineer my work is rooted in print media, book arts and commercial design. Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawings and three dimensional forms. I use my engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture which have lead to collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan. Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principals; I see their inquiry as basis for artistic inspiration. In my studio I am a collaborator, explorer and inventor. I begin with a system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over. Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final realization; in this way I come to understanding through curiosity.”
A huge thank you from the Futurespace team to Matt for giving us a personal insight into his work.