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Artist Cuts and Folds Crazy-Precise Architecture From Paper

Amy Schellenbaum
January 21, 2013
ChristinaLihan9.jpeg
ChristinaLihan9.jpeg

Photo via My Modern Met

With a master's degree in architecture from Columbia, Christina Lihan has worked as an architect in London, Italy, and Paris; studied socialist housing in Czechoslovakia; and has lived in NYC, San Francisco, and South Florida. Despite the world tour, architecture got boring, and like many an artist, Lihan sought sanctuary from her day job. What she does now? Artful architectural reliefs hewn from layered, perfectly precise sheets of paper. Wielding an X-acto knife, Lihan carves up unpainted, heavy-stock watercolor paper, focusing on "the light in the different planes my cuts created," she writes. The result is paper art with incredible shadow and depth, which perhaps makes each piece more intricate than even the mind-blowing work of other paper-folding geniuses, and maybe even more time-consuming than life-sized paper architecture. Her projects—housed in shadowboxes and hung on the wall—range from two to six inches deep and take inspiration from every angle; she's crafted the Taj Mahal, NYC bridges, Chicago skyscrapers, and art deco hotels in South Beach (above). More below.

ChristinaLihan3.jpeg
ChristinaLihan3.jpeg

Photo via My Modern Met

A bit about the process: Lihan starts by sketching charcoal templates, then blows up each sketch and starts cutting: "I am constantly resizing the cut piece and going back and forth to get the perspective as accurate as I can," she writes.

christina-lihan-paper-architecture-sculptures.jpeg
christina-lihan-paper-architecture-sculptures.jpeg

Photo via My Modern Met

"I don't construct any pieces with a measured perspective, I just eyeball everything (quite the opposite from a trained architect's way of working!)"

ChristinaLihan6.jpeg
ChristinaLihan6.jpeg