Yulia Brodskaya's mesmerizing quilled paper portraits

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There's something I find mesmerizing about art that is radically simple in form or medium, yet intricate and complex in subject and meaning. Russian artist Yulia Brodskaya's incredible paper works fit into this category.

Like Richard Shilling's use of twigs and leaves to remind us of the simple beauty of nature or the guns Sonia Rentsch forms with flower buds, nuts and sticks to raise the issue of environmental degradation and violence, Yulia Brodskaya utilizes paper -- perhaps the most basic art material available -- and a technique called "quilling" that involves twisting and folding strips of paper in such a way that she forces the viewer to not only appreciate her finished work, but also reconsider how we look at the raw materials she's using.

As you'll see in the following slides, her results are incredible. Or view as single page.

I don't want to oversell the "green" angle here -- part of my interest in posting this on TreeHugger was just that it appeals to me and I like sharing art I personally enjoy -- but there is a lesson in Brodskaya's work regarding waste and minimalism. "Less is more" is something we talk about often when discussing the benefits of sustainability and I think these paper portraits echo that idea. Instead of a sculptor starting with a block of stone or wood or clay and chipping and carving away to create an artwork, Brodskaya starts with paper and builds up only those lines needed to form this intricately detailed depth and texture. And by using strips of paper, there is very little waste, because even the smallest slivers of paper can sometimes be just the size needed for an eyelash or wrinkle or bit of feather.

Of course, not all art needs or should use this style just because it reduces waste. That is not the point. Rather, what's inspiring here is her fresh outlook on a simple medium. Artists have used paper for millennia and in many different ways, yet as these pieces illustrate, there's always more opportunity for fresh ways of thinking and innovative approaches to achieve spectacular results. The creativity and innovative mindset that Brodskaya is displaying here is something the world definitely needs more of.

Click through to see the rest of her portraits

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