Even if you’ve turned a sheet of paper into an airplane, a snowflake, or an origami swan, you haven’t come close to what Michael Velliquette MA’99, MFA’00 can do with studio art’s most fundamental tool. Velliquette is an assistant professor in the UW School of Education’s art department and a sculptor whose material is sold by the ream.
Yes: Velliquette’s medium is the canvas on which other artists scrawl their epics and smear their paints. But a look at one of Velliquette’s intricate sculptures proves that bare paper can put even the most lifelike paintings or evocative etchings to shame. His technique and tools are simple — scissors, knives, paper, glue, cutting, layering. But they create pieces that reflect the high level of skill and hundreds of hours (around 500 per artwork) that go into each one.
“When individuals encounter my sculptures, I’d like them to feel a sense of wonder and inspiration,” Velliquette told Shoutout HTX in May. “I want to convey the same sense of joy that I experience making them.”
His sculptures are not so much reflections of our world as newly imagined worlds in and of themselves. They are monochromatic, but Velliquette’s color choices are bold and tasteful, purposefully calling attention to the details that seem to emerge infinitely the longer one spends with a piece.
“I like there to be something everywhere that the eye rests [on] that sort of engages you or pushes you to the next thing,” he told Madison Magazine’s Maija Inveiss ’17, MBAx’24 in May.