March 11-April 21, 2024

In Metamorphosis, Jennifer Lillis and Christopher Kardambikis recast familiar, static forms from antiquity in the soft, accessible material of paper pulp. Through iteration and play, the artists re-collage and remix ancient myths and deities to craft a new (and newly strange) narrative space.

In 2005 and 2006, George Mason University acquired a collection of nearly 70 plaster replicas from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Most of these casts were made in the 19th century, representing works from Greek antiquity through medieval Europe. Since then, these turn-of-the century plaster casts of classical sculptures have haunted the School of Art hallways, stairwells, and storage closets while Mason has been working on a more permanent home. A massive copy of Lapith and Centaur—originally cast from the West Pediment at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia—has been tucked away at the base of the School of Art stairwell, often overlooked by students and faculty. Next to this piece, under moving blankets, rests two casts from the Parthenon Frieze.

Introducing fiber arts to the history of the objects, Lillis and Kardambikis explore the malleable and accessible possibilities of paper as a sculptural material. Pulp is made from recycled, refuse prints from the GMU Printmaking Studio and dyed abaca and hemp fibers. After beating, dying, and forming the pulp, large sheets are pressed over the plaster sculptures. This is both an archival process, capturing impressions from the collection before they are permanently rehoused, and a transformative one. The fragmented monuments, objects of passive study, are shrouded in unfamiliar colors and patterns. The paper impressions capture remnants from the surface and carry incomplete, imperfect information from iteration to iteration—a breakdown in fidelity that mimics the transformative process of photocopies made from photocopies.  Shifts in understanding and aesthetics are made from a creative degradation as gods are further dragged through base materials. 

Metamorphosis re-mystifies an academic collection, recording it while working to make it strange and new. Transmuting the original pieces into paper renders them newly weightless, slightly unmoored from their original context—recast in a way that invites speculation and intervention. 

Christopher Kardambikis (Asst. Professor, School of Art) explores space, process, and narrative through books, prints, and drawings. A bibliophile and zinester, Christopher founded Paper Cuts, a podcast and publishing platform that documents the contemporary world of zines and artist publications, as an excuse to talk to people about the books they make. He received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and MFA from the University of California, San Diego. In the fall of 2016, Christopher joined the faculty at George Mason University. In 2020, Christopher co-founded Cousins’ Books with his mother, Dr. Patricia Kardambikis. Cousins’ Books is a pop-up bookshop, housed inside the family’s Hot Dog Shop in New Castle, PA. A family business inside a family business, and his favorite ongoing project.

Jennifer Lillis (b. 1989) is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, teacher, and administrator based in Northern Virginia. She received her MFA in Visual Art and Technology from George Mason University in 2019, and her BA in Studio Art from Marymount University in 2012. Jennifer is the Assistant Curator and Gallery Manager at the McLean Project for the Arts, teaches Printmaking at George Mason University, co-producer of Paper Cuts, and founder of the print and book collective ELEMENTS.  

Exhibit Bookshelf

Recommended readings from the artists and Mason Libraries

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