Hardy explored her renewed fascination by using textural rubbings she’d taken from everyday objects in cities around the world as source materials for lifesize paper kimonos. The former included everything from manhole lids in San Sebastion, Spain, to Vatican City tombstones, to municipal plaques from Mexico City.
“The rubbings are reminders of the practical and nearly invisible efforts of unknown workers,” said Hardy, “while often eulogizing the efforts of those considered memorable.”
She combines the rubbings with found materials like bar napkins or tourist brochures via an intricate series of cuts, rips, slices, tears, folds, stitching, and stapling. The process is guided by the principle of mottainai, “a Japanese term for ‘wasting not’ that combines humility, respect, and gratitude for one’s resources,” said Hardy.
The approach, she added, “enables me to juxtapose the elegance of authentic Japanese ‘rice’ papers with the humble shreds of everyday discards.” The kimonos look wearable, “but are suitable only to be hung on a wall or placed on an armature.”
The result is a delicate but vibrantly colorful visual treat. Meanwhile, Hardy’s careful interweaving of rubbings and multitudinous paper types can be read like a text: Selections offer subtle hints of meaning that suggest larger hidden narratives.
Hardy says that’s no accident.
“I create to engage the audience in a dialogue of beauty and ideas,” she said. “I want to shine a light on things of wonder, on things of curious effect, on the surprising relationships that bind us to humanity.”