Rebecca Clouâtre's paper dreamscapes make us want to get lost in the natural world
Paper art helped her transition into a new career. Now, she's exploring another huge transition: motherhood
This video is part of our series Paper Cuts, in which you get to be hypnotized by artists doing incredible things with paper, scissors, glue sticks and X-Acto knives.
Ottawa-based artist Rebecca Clouâtre's hand-cut paper collages encourage viewers to contemplate the natural world and how precious it is — especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "It has become one of the only spaces to find peace and refuge," she said. "We need to preserve it. I like to think my work can remind everyone of that."
Inspired by the dreams she has had of the lakeside property where her grandfather lived, these surreal scenes play with scale and hierarchies found in nature. We see tiny lions perched on a branch, flowers erupting from a stag's horns, rabbits larger than moons, and humans getting lost within dream-like landscapes.
Clouâtre has always been an avid reader and collector, with a background in art history and curatorial studies. After leaving a gallery position nearly four years ago, Clouâtre decided to create her own art, making one collage a day for 150 days. By the end of the experiment, a style of her own had emerged. Her unique interest in negative space and intricate detail sets her apart from other collage artists.
Using second-hand organic materials adds to Clouâtre's creative process. She scavenges used bookstores for field guides, children's books, and old magazines for illustrations of animals, flowers, tiny houses — whatever she's interested in at the time — to create a whimsical dreamscape that is both beautiful and filled with meaning.
"Lately, I've been wanting to be more diligent and specific about what I'm using," she said, while flipping through pages to find the perfect missing piece. "I read somewhere that the protea flower specifically represents transformation and change.... [This collage] represents the change of the world because it's in such a huge state of flux in general right now, but also a change within me, becoming a mother."
In this video by filmmaker Vanessa Tignanelli, the artist shares the complexities of a woman's identity as she transitions into motherhood while balancing her career as a full-time artist. Clouâtre reflects on the importance of prioritizing both of these paths. "It makes me proud because I have made a viable career for myself without compromising what is important to me," she says.
Here we see an intimate view of Clouâtre's process, from sourcing and cutting out images, to laying out a new piece that represents today's world and her position in it. Each of her works grows as organically as the imagery she uses.
Follow Rebecca Clouâtre here.