and you did not even know enough to be sorry (work of art)
Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This artwork uses cast paper to create the illusion of a tree crashing through a wallpapered wall, bringing down furniture and light fixtures with it. The wallpaper’s repeating pattern of flowers and birds transitions from bright blooms to decayed flowers as it moves down the wall.
- Cast paper is a paper-crafting technique in which paper fiber or pulp is formed using molds. All of the protruding elements of this artwork were made using cast paper.
- This artwork is meant to recreate the destruction caused by a big storm or a weather event.
- Alexander believes homes are a reflection of the people who live in them. Her art explores themes of domestic life, success, and safety, and it examines how people are shaped by their homes and what happens within them.
Elizabeth Alexander uses cast paper and common household materials to create sculptures and installations. She says her artwork explores the social, cultural, and psychological implications of the American ideals of domesticity, success, and safety:
Regarding home as a place that is shaped by our stories and bears witness to our secret lives, I use my own experience to explore ways we, in turn, are shaped by our homes and the activity within them.
Cast paper is a technique in which paper fiber or pulp is formed into shapes using molds. In this installation Alexander uses cast paper to create a scene of a tree crashing through a wallpapered wall. The tree is wrapped up in furniture and light fixtures that it has brought down during the crash. The floral wallpaper starts in full bloom at the top of the wall and progresses further into decay as it moves down the wall. The installation recreates the destruction caused by a big storm or natural disaster.
The title of this installation, and you did not even know enough to be sorry, is a reference to a line from Mary Oliver’s poem, From the Book of Time. It also references the “fleeting sense of safety and loss within these ‘unprecedented times.’”
Resources for Teachers:
- Learn more about Elizabeth Alexander and view more of her installations.
- Read about the cast paper technique.
- Watch a video of a studio tour with the artist.
Resources for Students:
- Watch a video about different paper casting techniques.
- View other examples of paper sculptures.
- Create cast paper art using a cast paper technique known as paper mache.