PaperWhite by Bradley L. Bowers is a series of vases created from paper that explore the ideas of beauty, decay, life, death and permanence.
The concept of planned permanence frightens me. I believe nothing should be made to last for eternity. Death is natural, and not fearsome. We all must make decisions; PaperWhite asks us to choose between the container and the contained, to decide between the man-made and the god-made. Neither will flourish while the other endures. I want people to be more conscious of the life of things—and conversely the death of things.
Each vase was constructed with no desired form in mind, only a desired size. Using the natural properties of Cotton Rag Paper and water/wood-glue “soup” the vases were molded and pushed and then allowed to dry. Once dry I picked flowers from the area around my work area and arranged them with no particular outcome in mind.
No water can be added to the vases without the consequence of destroying them; one must choose between keeping the vase or keeping the flowers.
Ai Wei Wei has a piece of art that, for me, glorifies the destruction of an artifact that is revered. This deliberate destruction encouraged me to devise a process where the user would “passively” destroy the object—they would disfigure one in an attempt to save the other.
I wrote this Haiku to accompany these vases:
paper must decay
put into an empty thing
the flower finds death