How It’s Made:

A video by Darby Campbell.

Artist Charles Clary, Conway, uses movies as his inspiration for his work sometimes incorporating the two as he creates three-dimensional out of paper Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 in his studio. Paul Zoeller/ Santee Cooper

Artist Statement:

I use paper to create a world of fiction that challenges the viewer to suspend disbelief and venture into my fabricated reality. By layering paper I am able to build intriguing land formations that mimic viral colonies and concentric sound waves. These strange landmasses contaminate and infect the surfaces they inhabit transforming the space into something suitable for their gestation. Towers of paper and color jut into the viewer’s space inviting playful interactions between the viewer and this conceived world. These constructions question the notion of microbial outbreaks and their similarity to the visual representation of sound waves, transforming them into something more playful and inviting.

My most recent paper installation sculptures deal with the idea that music is an intangible virus, and we, the viewers, are the carriers that spread this “disease” from one space to another. Each paper tower resembles computer generated sound waves, petri dishes, bacterial and viral colonies, as well as fungal and mold growths; the towers represent the similarities that each share on the micro level. Context is removed, inviting the viewer to closely explore the work without fear of being infected. These works explore the constant “growth” of my installations, which if left alone to gestate, will eventually take over entire spaces, infesting every surface they touch. This ominous feeling is counter-balanced by bright, garish color schemes, which evoke playful interactions with each tower.
Recently, the work has become more personal, at least through the process of creation.

In February of 2013 I lost both my mother and father, two weeks apart, to smoking related cancers. It was a devastating time in my life, but I channeled my grief into the conceptual ideas of my work. Cancer is a disease that is a perfectly structured killer; it is beautiful in its architecture but grotesque in its eventuality. I began to think about nostalgia, longing for a childhood I never had, and parents that I needed. These thoughts brought me to the exploration of drywall and discarded wallpaper. The idea behind the more recent work using retro pop culture from my childhood is of order from chaos, beauty from destruction, and hope for more joyous times.

FAQ – Gallery Talk at the Myrtle Beach Museum of Art:


At work in the studio

Charles Clary was born in 1980 in Morristown, Tennessee. He received his BFA in painting with honors from Middle Tennessee State University and his MFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

He has shown in exhibitions at Galerie Evolution-Pierre Cardin in Paris, France, The Netherlands’ CODA Museum Paper Biennial in 2021, Art of Paper Fair in New York City, and many other international, national, and regional juried, group, solo, and museum exhibitions.

Clary has been featured in numerous print and Internet interviews including, Create! Magazine, PICKCHUR Magazine, Candyfloss Magazine, This is Colossal, WIRED magazine (US and UK), Hi Fructose, Beautiful Decay, Bluecanvas Magazine, and This Is Colossal. He has also been featured in publications including 500 Paper Objects,Paper Works,Paper Art, Papercraft 2, PUSH: Paper, and The New Twenties.

Clary won Top Prize at the 2016 ArtFields Competition in Lake City, SC, and in 2019 he won both People’s Choice Award for 2D and the Merit Prize at ArtFields.

Charles has exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally in numerous solo and group shows, is represented by Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia, R02 Gallery in Dallas, Texas, and Patrajdas Contemporary Gallery in Ogden, Utah. Clary currently lives and works in Conway, South Carolina, where he is an Associate Professor of Studio Art and Foundations Coordinator at Coastal Carolina University.

Feature on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet (CA)

5 Replies to “About”

  1. These are stunning pieces of art, that make the viewer a bit uneasy when the description is stated.

    1. Hey Alexandrea,

      Sorry for the delayed response, the mssg must have gotten lost in the fray, but better late than never right. I use about 1200 blades or more in a year depending on how active I am. Thanks for the inquiry and I hope all is well!


  2. Hi Charles,
    I am wondering if you would be comfortable in giving me a little advice?
    I am inthe early stages of being a card-cutting artist (though a sculptor for a long time) and I am intrigued as to what you use to space your layers?
    I have the Push Paper book, and what you have used looks almost transparent, is this right? I am interested as to what they might be.
    To date I have been cutting my own cubes of foamcore, yet am keen to find something more subtle as I would like to leave the sides of the layered works open.

    If you are interested /have time, you can see what I have been up to, work series called ‘Deep Within’.

    Thank you, in advance, for your time.



    1. Hey Genevre,

      Sorry for the late reply been super crazy as of late. As to your question. I used to use a material called polystyrene. They used to com in extruded tubes and were clear or transparent yellow. A few years ago the company that made them stopped shipping to the us and they became incredibly difficult to get. I then switched over to 1/8″ bass wood sticks. They are much easier to cut using a band saw and are about as noticeable. I hope this helps and please don’t hesitate to contact me again about any questions you may have. Hope all is well and good luck with your work!


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