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Refugium: Christina Laurel

Dec 4, 2020 - May 1, 2021

christina laurel refugium sculpture

Christina Laurel; Cocoon Convergence

Christina Laurel is a paper artist creating installations and two-dimensional art, all with a Japanese aesthetic. Her mission is to create an “exhale” moment, an oasis that offers a respite and refuge from our daily sensory overload. Suspended lace panels support a migrating pattern of butterflies that cast shadows and respond to air movement. Perambulating – whether with shoes, walker or wheelchair – through the suspended cocoons and grounded totems of “Refugium,” the viewer will become a part of the installation and a part of the art.


ARTtalk: Christina Laurel, Refugium

Christina Laurel Refugium

Christina Laurel; Cocoon

Christina Laurel Refugium

Christina Laurel; Cocoon fading

Christina Laurel Refugium

Christina Laurel; Cocoon

Artist’s Statement

A refugium is a specific environment in which a species can survive, whereas outside this environment it cannot. The butterfly is my chosen nature motif for this “Refugium:” strong yet fragile, enduring yet temporal. By walking among the socially-distanced, freely-rotating, suspended cocoons, the viewer becomes a part of the installation. When the biodiversity scientist E. O. Wilson brought to my attention that even butterfly species are endangered; the metaphorical leap to our own species was not far. Key to our survival is refuge within an oasis of calm, a counterbalance to the sensory bombardment of our daily lives. “Refugium” is just such an oasis.

– Christina Laurel

Project Process

Laurel’s work is influenced by her appreciation for a Japanese aesthetic. It begins with a photograph of her 2-D collage of a butterfly wing (2011) for the motif units – the butterflies – which are digitally printed. The fragile rice paper is pretreated in her studio with InkAID, an enhancer for digital printing. The sturdier Shoji paper is made of kozo infused with polymer. In addition to the hundreds of digitally printed butterflies, hundreds of white ones are hand traced. All are then individually hand-cut, hole-punched and attached via scrapbook brads to either a die-cut fabric or lace panels. The fabric provides the “cocoon” that envelops a wreath (metal, wood, or bamboo) armature. The fabric fastens at its seam with clear hand-sewn snaps. The free-rotating cocoons are suspended via monofilament.

Johnny Miller Unequal Scenes Detroit, Michigan, USA

Christina Laurel; Cocoon fading

Esperanza Cortés; EMPIRE; 2016; Chandelier, gold leaf, 1000 feet of gold plated jewelry chain, gold plated metal leaves, brass beads, glass beads; 18' L x 6' Diameter. The history of colonial empire is the history of the Americas, specially places like my birthplace Colombia.

Christina Laurel; Cocoon fading

About the Artist

Christina Laurel is an artist of paper and in 2005 she removed her art from the frame; in 2009 she began crafting suspensions that freely rotate and in 2014 shoji paper made its debut in an installation featuring one of her nature motifs – the gingko. She originally studied fashion design at Cornell University, then fine art at the University of Maryland and SUNY Brockport, earning a BS Studio Art in 2009.  Laurel’s artistic mission: “to create an exhale moment, an oasis of respite from the sensory bombardment of today’s world.” Her “Refugium” and “Emergent” installations were developed during several artist residencies: 2017, ArtRez, Newnan, GA; 2016, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Amherst, VA; 2015, Hambidge Center for Creative Arts, Rabun Gap, GA; and 2014, Paducah Arts Alliance, Paducah, KY. She has participated in a multitude of solo, duo and group exhibitions in galleries, museums and venues in South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, Kentucky and Georgia. She now resides in Liberty, South Carolina.

Video & Connections: Exhibition Guide

Gallery Walkthrough Video (top)

ARTtalk Video (middle)

Exhibition Insights Video (bottom)

Additional Images

Flickr – Installation images


Dec 4, 2020
May 1, 2021
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Gallery A