Paper as body, paper as archive: ‘Temporal Exchange’ at Quarter Gallery

Paper as body, paper as archive: ‘Temporal Exchange’ at Quarter Gallery

Published May 8th, 2024 by Cory Eull

The group exhibition is a collection of works exclusively on paper, highlighting the surface's fragility, accessibility, and versatility


Temporal Exchange, the scripted letters on the glass wall of the entry read. Thankfully I made sure to understand what the word temporal meant before coming to the interview — temporal pertains to time, specifically limited time. Synonyms for temporal are: temporary, impermanent, transient. Through the vinyl title of the show I can see a collage that is so essentially made of paper. A list of prescriptions next to a resignation letter, black and white photos of a subject’s face, feet and arms, an opened envelope with the plastic windows for the addresses — it is a pile of moments that make up a life. It makes me think about all of my stress-blasted sticky notes disintegrating in a landfill somewhere, chicken-scratched to-do lists and grocery needs and reminders to self on the bedside table. They’re notes that make up the documentation of a life, even if the writing of them was rote or mundane. Leon Valencia Currie’s piece, On Being a Battleground and a Sanctuary, leapt from the gray painted walls and into my mind’s eye upon my leaving.

Since April, the group exhibition of works on paper has been on view at the Quarter Gallery at the University of Minnesota's Regis Center for Art. Showcasing a variety of forms on paper, it was curated by BFA students and alumni of the UMN Department of Art. Mia Schultz, Camden Stevens, and Miram Anglin wanted to curate a show of works on paper to see how the accessibility of paper as a foundational medium could become the spine of an exhibition. Most of the emerging artists chosen for the show were either current students or graduates of the program, and a couple were sourced from the community. Mia, Cam, and Miram, already being studio mates, utilized their working relationship to form the organizational team of the show, and with the help of four other students they pulled in all the artists that would be displaying work. They landed on Temporal Exchange as the title and throughline of the show in October. “The way paper interacts with time was really important to us, and it felt like the work we had our eyes on as well as the work we had been creating lent itself to that theme,” says Cam.


Venus X, Afterdark, 2022. Spray paint and charcoal. Detail view at right. All photos by Cory Eull.


Spread between three segments of gallery, many pieces were tacked to the walls with pins, and I noticed how the pins as well as the rolls and occasional tears in the paper “moved the dimensionality away from the wall,” as Cam puts it. Venus X’s spray paint and charcoal piece, Afterdark, has a long edge that was cut at a slight diagonal with a couple horizontal jags or steps in the paper, and whether haphazard or intentional, the rough paper’s edge and its shadow brought the work to life for me. Seeing the pinned pieces like this one beside framed pieces, I started to see the frames as containers, as a stilling or taming of something alive and changing like paper or time.

Miram, who worked in stone lithography for the two pieces she contributed to the show, Kingdom of Flesh and Adder, commented on the intrigue of using historical methods for making new art, and how that process creates a duplexity and reveals an inherent relationship to time within the work. "We were really interested in the materiality of paper, and it as a documentation tool," she says. "We’re interested in the way it bends and relating that to time, how it can be altered in certain ways, or shaped by the environment or condition it’s in which also becomes documentation over time.”


Ella Bounds, Rivulet (detail), 2024. Watercolor and ink on paper.


The consideration of time in the show is multifaceted. There is a communication between past, present, and future in each piece as the processes used as well as the subject matter of the works reflect change. The commingling of media in the space  — having both stone lithographs and digital works side by side — really muddles any order thought to be had with time. There is also time as it relates to the time it takes to study or observe a piece. Rivulet, by Ella Bounds, is a triptych watercolor with such intricate and intimate spaces composed in the paint. It is very much contrasted from the larger works at the outset of the gallery. “The time you spend on each piece is a fun conversation that arrived after we had installed the show," says Cam. "Some pieces you can gather a lot of information from farther away or even while moving past the pieces, and some, like Ella’s, you have to get close and could spend minutes looking at every tiny cup or feather."

As said in the show’s statement, “The human condition is defined by the progression of time both through the mental experience and the physical body. By highlighting works on paper, the curators call attention to the transitory nature of this material, which can fold, bend, and warp.” You get the sense that paper is a body of its own, one that can be adorned, altered, and richly archival. The body remembers, they say, and so too do these works. ◼︎ 


Temporal Exchange, installation view.


Temporal Exchange is on view at the Quarter Gallery through May 11. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm. To learn more, visit the gallery's website or follow @umn_art on Instagram.

Editor's note: Senior Editor Russ White works both for MPLSART and for the UMN Department of Art. This article was pitched by the author and was not specifically commissioned.

Banner image: Leon Valencia Currie, On Being a Battleground and a Sanctuary (detail), 2022. Inkjet prints, film photography, cardboard, resin cardstock, tracing paper, journal paper, textiles.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. 

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