Colombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera makes exquisite paper sculptures of colourful birds, driven by an interest in the precarious beauty of our natural environment. She says of her style: “I am always searching for the best way to represent the subject matter of my work, and to capture all the movements and actions of living creatures.” We speak to Herrera about her enchanting avian creations.
Can you tell us more about your background in the creative arts, and what motivated you to start working with paper sculptures?
I studied industrial design in Bogota. Later on I took some classes in experimental painting and moved to Helsinki, where I learnt ceramic sculpture. Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed making things by myself. I loved drawing, painting, and craftwork in general. I started to realise that my passion could also become my work when I shared my works online and received the attention of other people who were very generous with their support.
I used to make collages, as I have always liked to work with layers and pieces. At some point collage wasn’t enough for me any longer, and I began to wonder how I could move on to the next level. I started to experiment with different methods of creating voluminous, 3D forms with paper. The development of my current technique took two years of hard work.
Colourful birds are an integral theme to your practice. Why birds?
I have been always concerned about the lack of interest we show towards our natural environment. My country boasts a diverse variety of fauna and flora, and I am not a stranger to the beauty of the wilderness. Birds are an important part of nature in South America. I was captivated by their exoticism, colour, and morphology, so I started to learn more about different species and their characteristics. By studying the birds, I noticed about how an ecosystem or landscape could change and evolve. I also have a six-year-old son, and as a mother I want to teach him the importance of doing our part to protect the environment. I think he is the reason why I do what I do.
Do you work differently with sculpture as compared to drawing?
Drawing is an important part of my work. Sometimes my sculptures become more complicated, and so by drawing I free up my mind and explore different ways of conveying the same thought. I would like to venture into painting, specifically painting murals.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects.
I am preparing an exhibition for the Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Orlando this September, and the focus will be on the endemic birds of Florida. I hope to take my art to different places.
All images courtesy of the artist.