PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas October 2020

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63 Thanksgiving Day, right before her first show was scheduled to open. Art and furnishings were destroyed, and it took another year before she gathered the energy to repair the damage and mount a new installation. "I was devastated after the fire, but the show gave me a new vision," she says. "If I have vision, I can gain strength." And, she needed it: The fire kicked off a decades-long spate of burglaries throughout the compound of cottages — 64 instances in all. Furniture, artworks, and other precious items were stolen. The thefts finally stopped 10 years ago. Over time, Werner-Vaughn has used these tribulations to fuel her artwork and installations. "I found a way to make something beautiful out of destruction," she says. Her career flourished; she took a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, and her myth-based drawings were used in a film produced by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The cottages, with their dreamy installations of furniture and art, continue to endure, evolve, and inspire. "Although it's not stated in my work, I'm showing that we can transform the world if we use our imagination," she says. "A bungalow could be a palace, if you imagined it." This cottage, Here & There, is just such a palace. Much of the furniture is 18th-century French — romantic pieces, shapely daybeds and bergères, sometimes left in their original tattered conditions. Doorways aren't just passages but portals into ancient worlds, draped with shredded silk saris and tied with silk cords. Other doorways are painted to resemble marble, with faux transom windows A pink-and-blue painting by Werner-Vaughn, left, inspired this room installation. The artist also created the painting and sculptures at right and painted the cloud scene above the doorway. A monumental antique gilt candlestick is used as a pedestal for a tiny sculpture. looking into celestial landscapes, painted with fluffy white clouds on baby-blue skies. Pink and blue are Werner-Vaughn's favorite colors, and she has immersed the cottage in those delicate hues. These cottages, with their rooms of carefully selected and placed furnishings, are meant to lend meaning to her artwork and, in a larger sense, the world. "Rooms are like a palette," she says. "By giving a room a color, it gives it a dimension. I create space and volume through the placement of objects — I put objects in rooms to articulate the world." In her advancing years, Werner- Vaughn knows her time and energy are limited, but she's not finished. "I want to save more old houses," she says. "They are the beginnings for my art — houses inspire what I have to say. And I have more to say." (Continued)

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