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Piecing it together: Paper cutting artwork comes to Morro Bay

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Two years ago, lab assistant Ryan Carroll didn't even know what paper cutting was. But he'd grown up crafting origami into everything from geometric shapes to animals, so when he stumbled across the art of paper cutting (which has roots going back to sixth century China) on Instagram, he was intrigued.

STREETS OF TOKYO:  The contrasting colors in Ryan Carroll’s 'Late Autumn, Tokyo Alley' make the piece pop and give it a three-dimensional feel. - IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • STREETS OF TOKYO: The contrasting colors in Ryan Carroll’s 'Late Autumn, Tokyo Alley' make the piece pop and give it a three-dimensional feel.

Fast forward to the present, and the 20-something Allan Hancock College lab assistant/self-taught artist has been showing his work at art fairs and galleries for about a year. The Pismo Beach-based Carroll's first solo show is currently on display at Gallery at Marina Square in Morro Bay.

"It was really just a hobby," Carroll said. "It was something I would do after work to decompress."

Carroll started out making paper renditions of his favorite music album covers from groups like The Shins and A Tribe Called Quest, looking for pieces with sharp, contrasting colors so the paper pieces would really pop. His work now includes scenic depictions of Morro Rock, a Tokyo street, and complex geometric shapes. His piece Morro Rock layers shades of brown, green, blue, and white paper. The result is a scene that seems so windy, you can almost sense the chill of the bay when you look at it.

EYE CATCHING:  The bold colors in Ryan Carroll’s piece 'Catseyes' stand out against a black background. - IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • EYE CATCHING: The bold colors in Ryan Carroll’s piece 'Catseyes' stand out against a black background.

These days Carroll free-hands his own stencil designs and uses a software program called Blender to help with the rest. Next come hours and hours of cutting paper with an X-ACTO knife (he goes through up to 10 blades per project) and a cutting mat. Carroll selects a background color for the piece and problem solves to layer each segment of paper just so. It's not unusual for Carroll to binge-work on a project over a weekend, and each piece can take anywhere from 10 to 50 hours to complete from design to finish.

"I love paper," Carroll said. "There's lots of possibilities and it's something you don't see normally."

MAKING THE CUT:  Fine Art Paper Cutting by Ryan Carroll will be on display at Gallery at Marina Square in Morro Bay through Feb. 27, but a smaller amount of his work will remain on display permanently. All pieces are for sale and range from $100 to $1,000. Visit galleryatmarinasquare.com for more information. For more of the artist’s work, check out @ryancarroll88 on Instagram.
  • MAKING THE CUT: Fine Art Paper Cutting by Ryan Carroll will be on display at Gallery at Marina Square in Morro Bay through Feb. 27, but a smaller amount of his work will remain on display permanently. All pieces are for sale and range from $100 to $1,000. Visit galleryatmarinasquare.com for more information. For more of the artist’s work, check out @ryancarroll88 on Instagram.

The former chemical biology major also seeks to adapt science into art, looking to make things like protein structures and insulin into eye-catching paper pieces.

"I want to give a perspective on these tiny, microscopic structures that people can't see."

Ultimately, Carroll hopes that people walk away from his work with an appreciation for an under-recognized art form.

"I want to give people an appreciation for details," Carroll said.

Ryah Cooley is trying not to get a paper cut at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

PAPER MASTER:  Pismo Beach-based artist Ryan Carroll has been working with paper cutting for the past two years. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • PAPER MASTER: Pismo Beach-based artist Ryan Carroll has been working with paper cutting for the past two years.

THE ROCK:  Pieces like 'Morro Rock,' can take paper cutting-artist Ryan Carroll anywhere from 10 to 50 hours to complete. - IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF GALLERY AT MARINA SQUARE
  • THE ROCK: Pieces like 'Morro Rock,' can take paper cutting-artist Ryan Carroll anywhere from 10 to 50 hours to complete.

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