Ann Weber Elevates Discarded Cardboard Boxes and Staples to New Heights in Billowing Sculptures

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An abstract sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows” (2020), cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 101 x 44 x 20 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

Exemplifying the possibilities of combining humble materials with a good dose of resourcefulness, Ann Weber’s monumental sculptures find their beginnings in discarded cardboard boxes. The San Pedro, California-based artist parlayed her training in ceramics into a focus on the everyday material, initially inspired by architect Frank Gehry’s cardboard chairs, which transformed utilitarian, heavyweight paper into a structurally sound and visually appealing functional object. Weber echoed a similar intention when she decided to eliminate the inherently cumbersome process and weight of clay in exchange for a lightweight material that could be scaled up.

The artist scours the neighborhoods of Los Angeles for boxes, paying special attention to those with printed surfaces; she carefully considers the colors of graphics and text and incorporates them into the overall composition of each work. In the studio, she begins by building an armature with larger pieces of cardboard to create the silhouette. She then applies layers of strips cut from other boxes and staples them into place in a repetitive, textured pattern.

While the forms billow, bulge, and tower overhead, the artist doesn’t want to obscure the ubiquitous material; instead, Weber invites the viewer to consider the substance in a way they might not otherwise, saying “cardboard has taken on more complex meaning in the 21st century with the hyper-capitalistic proliferation of excess shipping materials.” Paper accounts for more than a quarter of the waste in landfills globally. “The sculptures can be viewed as a critique of contemporary consumerist culture, but that is not my sole intent,” she continues. “They are instilled with a psychological component neither entirely representational nor abstract, but something in between.”

Weber recently wrapped up a major exhibition at Wönzimer Gallery in Los Angeles. Explore more of her work on Instagram and her website.

 

An abstract sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“You’re My Butterfly” (2012), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 88 x 30 x 20 inches and 88 x 36 x 23 inches. Photo by Sibila Savage

Abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

Left: The artist’s studio. Right: “Almost 16 & 15 and 1/2” (2002), found cardboard, staples, polyurethane, and steel base, 182 x 48 x 49 inches and 177 x 38 x 38 inches. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

A series of abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

“Gothic on Grand” (2018), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 98 x 166 x 14 inches. Photo by Ray Carafano

An abstract wall sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“Happiest Days of Our Lives” (2018), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 96 x 124 x 10 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

An abstract sculpture on a plinth made out of discarded cardboard.

“Hallelujah” (2016), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 30 x 46 x 10 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano   

An abstract sculpture with yellow stripes made out of discarded cardboard.

“Pedro Boogie Woogie” (2019), cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 104 x 48 x 28 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

An installation view in a gallery space of abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

Installation view at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco (2012). Photo by Sibila Savage

Ann Weber, artist, standing with a series of abstract, white sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

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