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Eric Standley's cutting-edge artwork gains international following


A close-up view of layers of intricately cut paper. A detail of Eric Standley’s “Either/Or Arch 5.1” shows the intricacy of his work. This piece was created using more than 100 layers of laser-cut paper.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 27, 2013 – Associate Professor Eric Standley plays an important role in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, where he serves as the coordinator of Foundations of Art and Design, the program that teaches first-year students in the School of Visual Arts essential skills in creativity, conceptual sensitivity, drawing and design. Standley draws upon his own experiences as a fine artist to instill “creative leadership,” in his students, which he defines as a blend of creativity, technical skill, and command of visual culture.

Standley’s artwork is truly cutting edge, with layer upon layer of intricately laser-cut sheets of paper forming a rich, colorful, and detailed whole. He is a pioneer in the techniques used to create his art, which recently started an international buzz with art collectors, blogs, and media, including Wired Magazine UK, Metaal Magazine Netherlands, and Discovery Canada.

His vector drawings were initially inspired by the geometry in Gothic and Islamic architectural ornamentation. The pieces are painstakingly assembled from laser-cut paper layered to create elaborate 3-D works of art.  Often these works are created using well over 100 layers of paper and can take months of planning and drawing. The result is so intricately detailed that the pieces must be viewed from multiple perspectives to be fully appreciated.

Standley uses an array of colors woven together with mathematical precision to create his art, combining 12th century architectural aesthetics with contemporary technology. His work has evolved over the last five years as he continually pushes the envelope by testing the capacity of the laser optics and the paper, often creating cuts with such accuracy that the resulting shape is finer than the actual thickness of the sheet of paper.

In designing his pieces, Standley envisions three to seven layers of paper at one time, picturing how they will build upon one another. It is a mental exercise that he compares to playing chess while thinking seven moves ahead.

His cut-paper drawings have appeared in more than 40 exhibitions over the past two years, including the Shore Institute of Contemporary Art, LaGrange Art Museum, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, and the Taubman Museum of Art. He is represented by the Marta Hewett Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio; ADA Gallery in Richmond, Va.;  and Mulherin + Pollard in New York City.

Standley received his B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art and his M.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of four schools: the School of Architecture + Design, including architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture; the School of Public and International Affairs, including urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy and government and international affairs; the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, which includes building construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and construction engineering management in the College of Engineering; and the School of the Visual Arts, including programs in studio art, visual communication and art history.

School of Visual Arts

    A palette with many colors of paint with an array of brushes on top.

The School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech embraces contemporary and traditional techniques in fine art, art history, and visual and digital design. The school offers five undergraduate and graduate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in art history
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in studio art
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in visual communication design
  • Master of Fine Arts in creative technologies
  • Master of Arts in material culture and public humanities (in partnership with the Department of Religion and Culture)

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