Leaving a Paper Trail

28 Aug, 2016 | Gabriel Macguinness

The Arts

Photo: Gabrielle Mcguinness

Marion Macédo’s Quest to Make Art From the Unwanted

Each day we fill our bins to the brim with scraps of paper, cardboard boxes and bundles of packaging, a clear sign that paper, an essential resource, is being inefficiently used and abhorrently neglected. For Bolivian artist Marion Macédo, however, paper can be reincarnated beyond the recycling bin.

Dangling from the ceiling on the far wall of her studio is a striking life-sized stencil of the tree of life, carved from a sheet of canvas that casts shadows upon the wall behind it. The soft light shines through each leaf-shaped gap. A few footsteps into the room and it becomes evident that nature deeply inspires Marion. ‘There is too much tragedy in the world for art to be about darkness,’ she utters. ‘Art should be something beautiful and inspiring that teaches us to be better.’

Every element of Marion’s artwork reflects her entrenched respect for the environment. The moulds she uses for her delicate, softly glowing lamps are discarded mannequins from her studio. An old drawer is saved from the skip and transformed into a picture frame. The German books she cuts, folds and draws on are bought from a local Lutheran church that sells off its unwanted literature.

Marion’s career as an artist began just 10 years ago, when she left her job at a Swiss marketing firm in La Paz for London, to study interior design and English. After five years abroad, she returned to La Paz to pursue a career in the art world. She established herself as an eminent artist through the growth of her old shop in Zona Sur, where she sold paper flower arrangements and jewellery.

When the French company Salon de Chocolat collaborated with the high-end Bolivian chocolate brand to improve their recipes, Marion was invited to design a fairy dress that was presented at the launch party in Paris. She made the dress using almost every element of the cocoa tree, from the bark to the bean. For four years, she has held free open-air fashion shows, modelling clothing made from reclaimed materials. This venture has left a lasting impression upon the public, earning her the blessings of complete strangers and the honor of judging an upcycled fashion catwalk at a local school.

Her attraction to environmentally friendly projects stems from her upbringing. Marion reminisces about her parents and their expansive garden, blooming with trees, flowers and fruits in abundance. Her father nurtured her creativity while her mother warned her about breaking flowers or leaves out of respect for nature.

This explains Marion’s choice of paper as her favoured artistic medium, a stepping stone between art and nature. Like the endless variety of the natural world, her experimentations, which vary from cutting, sticking, dyeing, shredding, folding, ripping, painting and even knitting, demonstrate that paper actually possesses an inherent versatility and raw beauty.

Beyond its initial aesthetic appeal, her artwork radiates the values associated with Pachamama, in the hope of sculpting a more loving and ethical society. She believes art and education can help paceños deal with the rising levels of stress in the city and prevent the destruction of her country’s environment, for which she professes an undying pride. Although she may seem too compassionate to be human, she is humble to a fault, which is why she denies her evident creativity.

‘There is too much tragedy in the world for art to be about darkness.’
—Marion Macédo


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