July 2010 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Interview with paper artist Linda Filley

Recently I was browsing in the wonderful little Hudson Valley town of Rhinebeck, New York, when some window dressing caught my eye (pun intended). Inside a lovely paper and stationery shop called Paper Trail was an exhibit of paper dresses and shoes. The shop happened to be closed at the time, so when I returned home, I went straight to my computer to research the shop and the exhibit. The exhibit is called Texture con Texture, and it features the work of Linda Filley and Ramon Lascano. Filley makes paper dresses and shoes, and Lascano makes conceptual book art and altered book art. Both are stunning.

The paper fashions were something I had never seen before, and I was quite taken with them. As examples, Filley's Bluebird dress and Shoe Boot are pictured here. I emailed her to ask more about it, and here is our Q&A.

RRB: How did you come up with the idea for paper dresses and shoes? I've seen paper jewelry before, but never anything like this!

LF: The dresses came about when Maureen and Serine [owners of Paper Trail] bought the forms to use for a holiday ornaments display. After the holidays they suggested weaving some paper through the forms which are made of wire. It all came so naturally to me. I have always loved fashion and wrapping gifts so the two finally met. That was 4 1/2 years ago and I have probably made about 20 dresses since. The shoes are a recent project. I made 1 each for Maureen and Serine this past holiday season and used them for the topping of their presents. Maureen then suggested I make some more and we could include them in the Spring show which was the second one Ramon and I have done at Paper Trail. The first show was called Fashion and Fiction.

RRB: How do you describe your art -- or yourself -- book art, book artist? paper designer?

LF: I guess I would describe myself as a paper artist. I have always loved to make something from nothing and make it as appealing as possible. The next best thing to making the dresses and shoes is the search for different material and to use it outside of its original intent, e.g. packaging material, odd little bits of ribbon from the store and the plastic mesh bags that onions come in.

RRB: What is your artist background?

LF: I am self-taught. I have been drawn most of my life to making visual stories out of different items whether it be window/table display for a store or just placing things picked up from a walk.

RRB: It's interesting to me that Paper Trail -- a retail paper & gift store -- is holding an art exhibition. How did this collaboration come about?

LF: Three years ago  when Maureen and Serine moved Paper Trail from the back space to its current location, it gave them a new chance to expand the scope of the store beyond gifts and stationery. The room on your left when you first enter the store is a natural space for displaying art.

Paper couture, I like it. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Paper Trail. You can also see images from the exhibit online.