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Beca Piascik

Beca Piascik’s work is grounded in the significance of water, and inspired by connections between the cycles and dynamics of the core elements of nature with the root causes that link individual humans within a community. Native to upstate New York and working regularly in Southern California, Beca traverses media but finds herself at home once more in the water world of hand papermaking. Creating sculptural art through hand papermaking as a medium is incredibly dynamic and informative, enabling manipulation of the material properties of paper with intensely haptic processes.  

Keystones is a large scale, immersive installation welcoming an experience that is more than simply a visual observation.  Calling upon the full range of my skills and technical explorations in hand papermaking, the composition is of multiple sculptural forms arranged to draw the visitor inside the installation. The normal boundaries requiring viewing from a distance are broken, and all are invited to touch and interact with certain pieces created to share the intensely haptic nature of hand papermaking.

Ecosystems and their subsystems contain certain “keystone” organisms that if compromised or eliminated would cause a destabilization that would severely damage or destroy the entirety. Scientific study has shown that keystones in an ecosystem often are the participants with the largest population or visible presence, but can be ones that are small in number and nearly invisible. Keystones represents an ecosystem in nature with various participants physically in relationship to each other. It is unclear which are keystone organisms. The visitor is invited to interact with the most abstract element “Tubes”, a structure of large tubes representing a common form of many different organisms in nature, by reaching inside each tube to touch and experience different core substances from the natural world. Tubes itself may be a keystone, or may contain one or more keystones within. Visitors may also consider parallels in human social systems. Which entities and institutions are keystone to the equilibrium in our social systems?    

But Keystones remains an unfinished work. Covid-19 disrupted my project, along with every other part of my life. Would the legacy of my capstone Senior Thesis be “unfinished”? I think not!! 

And so was born Keystones-2, Covid-19

After much sorrow and grief, I explored what was important to me and what was possible.  My “must” list became: 

  • finished piece 

  • keystone theme 

  • hand papermaking 

  • Intensity of touch 

  • confronting Covid-19. 

While sheltered in place at home, my family and cohort of fellow artists rallied around me.  As my creative design took shape, we revamped my home art studio and built a Popup hand papermaking studio in the garage. 

Keystone 2- Covid-19 presents the Saguaro Cactus overtly as a keystone of the Sonoran Desert. Majestic and visually dominant in its ecosystem, it is critical to many other participants.  Blossoms invite species of bats to feed as well as to pollinate the cactus. A large eagle’s egg is nestled in the protected hollow between the trunk and one of the largest branches. The egg has hatched, and the family of eagles has left to continue their life’s journey. 

The Saguaro is installed behind our mailbox, and towers over it in a protective posture.  In human society dominated by social distancing, the postal service has emerged as a keystone institution in post-Covid-19 reality. Communications by letters, notes and packages are elevated in importance as human touchpoints, with the haptic content being significantly higher than with video conferencing and text messaging. The United States Postal Service, or USPS, has a long history in serving this purpose in society.  In fact, online shopping relies heavily upon USPS to deliver purchased items.  The USPS is an Essential Business. 

The eagle egg pays homage to the USPS. Current and historical logos of the USPS are embedded in the surface, and it remains cracked open to reveal postage and other ephemera.  The close proximity of the cactus to the mailbox contrasts with social distancing, transferring the intense touch experience of direct contact between the viewer and installation to the haptic experience of preparing, sending and receiving packages through the USPS. 

Keystones 2- Covid-19 conveys appreciation and gratitude to the mail carriers working in our neighborhood, offering comfort and contemplation to my neighbors. 

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Beca Piascik - Keystones 2
Handmade Paper Sculpture, 7'x3', 2020
Beca Piascik - Keystones 2, Mailman
Handmade Paper Sculpture, 7'x3', 2020.
Beca Piascik - Keystones 2, Egg
Handmade Paper Sculpture, 7'x3', 2020.
Beca Piascik - Keystone Sketch
Digital Sketch, Handmade Paper Sculpture, 60” x 48” x 36”, 2020.