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Laurel Arts celebrates 10 years of papercutting

Dylan JohnsonMay 19, 2019

The small cuts and intricate details in a papercutter’s artwork always seem to impress the viewer.

About 100 of these detailed pieces from all over the world are on display at Laurel Arts in the Philip Dressler Center in Somerset. For 10 years, Laurel Arts has been the National Museum of the Guild of American Papercutters.

In celebration of the anniversary, Laurel Arts held a public reception Saturday and will display the papercutting artworks until June 14.

Local papercutter Kathy Trexel Reed said that Laurel Arts is the only place in the entire country that has a permanent display for papercutting.

“These show that people at any time and any place found paper convenient and a way to express something,” she said. “It was before the Industrial Revolution — before they could get a Hallmark card.”

Papercutting spans the globe, and many artworks from other countries can be seen at Laurel Arts.

Some of the smallest pieces are centuries old holy tributes made by monks and nuns. Other works are traditional Swiss papercuttings with elaborate borders, meandering paths and centered medallions.

Many of the works on exhibit at Laurel Arts have no backstory because they were donated by a collector.

“These things are an important part of history as well as an important part of art,” Reed said.

Jaclyn McCusker, Laurel Arts director of development, said that it’s an honor for Somerset County to host the national museum of papercutters.

“People are always in awe,” she said. “They can’t believe it’s paper.”

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