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'Passion for paper': Ada artist creates life-size ArtPrize display made entirely out of paper

Karen Dixon, of Ada, makes all of her creations out of handmade paper, and she couldn't think of a better place for her display than a local paper store.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An Ada woman, who is a featured artist in this year's ArtPrize, is passionate about paper. Yes, you heard that right, her medium of art is all things paper. 

Karen Dixon worked tirelessly on the display for ArtPrize which she named "Perfectly Imperfect." It's made up of 17 different large flowers that are all made entirely out of paper.

Dixon makes all of the paper by hand, then paints or dyes it, and turns it into masterpieces. Her display also found the perfect spot to be featured - at a paper store in Downtown Grand Rapids along Monroe Street called Oh, Hello Paper Co. Paper & Gifts

Dixon said her passion for art was re-ignited during the pandemic while watching her daughter take online design classes.

"I became completely excited and jazzed about the possibilities of paper," Dixon said. "The dimension that you can create with it, and its textures, it's just my favorite medium."

Last year, we met Dixon as she put on her very first ArtPrize exhibit. It too featured paper and was a compilation of faces that represented the hardships put on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"My art now is a reflection of the new hope," she said, "or at least the new hope that I think a lot of people are starting to feel. That life can be happy and normal again.

If you'd like to see this exhibit for yourself, Oh Hello Paper Co. is open seven days per week, and you can check their website for any updates!

Dixon's artist bio is as follows:

"Perfectly Imperfect symbolizes my journey through life and art. For most of my life, I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” of an artist to pursue anything other than a hobby. My beliefs began to change when I started working with paper. I fell in love with paper art and the community. After many frustrated attempts to create something “perfect,” I realized that just wasn’t me. Rather than replicate something perfectly, I embrace that my work mirrors life. Each phase, challenge and experience is beautiful as is and perfectly imperfect. My pieces are never exactly the same- sizes, colors, and materials always vary, yet each one is beautiful and perfectly imperfect. Perfectly Imperfect is a collection of 3-D flowers created from handmade paper; ranging in size from 2ft to 5ft tall. Out of a desire for people to be able to experience the depth without the barrier of glass, I create "paper cloth" making paper art both strong and water resistant. Essentially a handmade paper sculpture."

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