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Published: Sunday, 3/4/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago


Point Place artist works intricate magic with paper cutting

Artist Mary Gaynier, of Point Place, shows students at Ottawa Hills High School how to make paper snowflakes. Artist Mary Gaynier, of Point Place, shows students at Ottawa Hills High School how to make paper snowflakes.

Mary Gaynier’s work combines a surgeon’s precision and an artist’s vision with a large helping of humor to provide complex pieces that are as beautiful as they are whimsical.

The Point Place artist takes the most elementary form of art imaginable — remember cutting out snowflakes when you were in grade school? — and turns them into multi-dimensional pieces that are far more M.C. Escher than they are fifth-grade crafts.

PHOTO GALLERY: Gaynier teaches Ottawa Hills students to create snowflakes

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Her elaborate works feature the silly — Who Says Nothing Ever Happens in Toledo? shows a Godzilla-type monster and aliens ravaging downtown — and the sublime — Look Out Behind You is an exercise in paranoia with a large shark bearing down on a water skiier. All of the pieces tell little stories and reveal qualities that you don’t notice on first glance.

They’re the result of hundreds of hours of work, Ms. Gaynier said while taking a break from teaching the craft to Ottawa Hills High School art students.

"I don’t necessarily keep track of those hours or I probably wouldn’t do it," the University of Toledo art school graduate said, noting that she draws the pieces out in advance to provide a pattern. "When I start with the design and drawing, I spend a lot of time. Everything has to connect and it’s a puzzle within itself, so it needs to flow."

George Estes, 13, holds snowflakes he cut out. George Estes, 13, holds snowflakes he cut out.

She uses an X-acto knife to do the cutting and it takes several months to finish a piece because she has to take breaks or risk suffering tendonitis because of the tedious repetitive motions that are required.

Her work has been displayed and entered into contests all over the world, including Iceland, and she has exhibits coming up at Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz.; Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, Mich., and this summer in Toledo.

Ms. Gaynier (pronounced Gone-yay) said that while the intense detail and time-consuming cutting can become monotonous, she loves the creative process and then seeing the results.

"I have that puzzle to solve and I enjoy that challenge," she said. "I don’t know what it’s going to look like when I cut it and ... I love the surprise when I open it up and see what it looks like."

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.

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