A Get Together To Tear It Apart: Hayden Fosdick and "Paper Compounds"

"Creation. Destruction. Creation. Destruction." The alternating quote from I Heart Huckabees is a particularly apt description for Hayden Fosdick's series, Paper Compounds, currently on display at The Tipping Point in downtown Houston. The altered artworks are a joint display of damage and construction, resulting in insightful and whimsical pieces.

It'a a paradox that's reflective of the work's origin. Three years ago, Hayden began to go through his late father's books. "We had all this excess, a whole bookcase full, that weren't worth anything," he explains.

Due to either a lack of commercial value or outdated information, the books seemed destined for the recycle bin when Fosdick's imagination spared them. "I noticed all these good pictures in them, and I didn't want to waste all those pictures. So I just ended up going through them all," he says.

Fosdick decided to slice up the pictures, altering them and recompiling them with other images. At first, it was a bit of a hobby, something to do upon returning home from the workday, but the appeal continued to grow for the young artist.

Fosdick alters the mood of stock illustrations from old magazines and books into playful, witty, and pensive subjects. While there is no overarching theme or message driving the work, motifs show up throughout the art. "I don't know why, but I just like hands," Hayden says. "It's sort of the tangibility of it, that tactility of cutting - because that's really all this is, is cutting paper and gluing it to itself. There's not a subject matter or anything that really interests me, it is more the process," he says.

He describes that process as a disjointed one. "I'll make a piece and put it away, and not think about it for a while," he says. "Then I'll find it - and I won't even have given it a title, but when I find it again I'll look at it. And it will click in my head - the title will come to me or I'll think, 'oh, it needs one more thing.' In a weird way, the inspiration is that I've already done it. Like, I've already done something, so let's keep doing it."

The small works are sourced completely from found material, and thus the topics vary wildly depending on what is available. He is always on the hunt for new images, a search that has seen him rummaging through varied suppliers. "I've been kicked out of the Half Price Books dumpster a number of times," he admits, adding "you've gotta go at night."

For now, Hayden makes a living through odd jobs. "I'm actually moving to New York City in October, so I'm in this weird thing where no one will hire me," he says, revealing a state of limbo. Upon moving, he believes he'll continue crafting the artworks, but will probably look for an entirely new supply of pictures. "I may bring a few standbys, to hold me over. Hands are really big to me, so I may bring a few books that I know have a lot of hands."

The works in Paper Compounds aren't entirely complex, but their strange simplicity resonates quickly with the viewer. Some pieces take more time to decipher as the observer determines how the image originally appeared. Some, like Fosdick's piece that splices together a woman and a tornado, are more evident. "There's just something about women and tornadoes," he states. "They're powerful - and I don't mean that in a mean way."

The allure of the creative destruction behind his work is what keeps Fosdick crafting new pieces. "If you can recognize the potential in an image, and then do something new with it, it's all about this shift, and this ability you have as someone who looks and acts," he says.

'Paper Compounds' will open with a reception at The Tipping Point on Saturday, July 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The works will be on display through October 15, 2011.

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