Now Playing:

Arts & Life


Papercut Artist Nikki McClure

You may have not heard the name Nikki McClure, but chances are you have seen some of her work.

Postcards, calendars, book covers, and designs printed on handbags and other memorabilia are so common that they are part of the visual landscape of modern American life.

For more than 15 years, McClure has been perfecting the craft of papercut artwork, the results of which are now on display in “Nikki McClure: Cutting Her Own Path, 1996–2011” at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft

McClure’s artwork is reflective of many themes, most of which are deeply personal. 

McClure tours the exhibition filled with her artwork from the past 15 years.

Ifanyi Bell / OPB

“Walking through the space, it’s like looking through my family photo album,” says McClure. “Having it all in one place like this allows me to see connections and themes that I didn’t even recognize before.” 

Papercut art is exactly what it sounds like. Cutting paper to make art. But what is interesting about McClure’s work is that people rarely get the chance to see the extreme intricacies and exacting precision that is so evident in the original pieces. Most often when the public purchases a print or something with her work on it, they are seeing a two-dimensional reproduction of something much more dynamic.

That’s why the opportunity to see her artwork up close during this exhibition is so unique. The next time you look at one of McClure’s printed pieces, you’ll have a whole new level of appreciation for the delicate, painstaking work that goes into each piece. (Click on “View Gallery” in the right sidebar to see a selection of McClure’s works.)

McClure's early work featured an apple, as in this piece from 1996.

Ifanyi Bell / OPB

Walking through the exhibition with McClure, you can feel the sense of quiet pride and protectiveness she has for her work. And that’s only fitting. After all, hanging on the walls and in display cases all around are depictions of the past 15 years of her life and family for all to see.

“It’s important for people to share their stories of their existence, and through that sharing of stories there is this commonality of experience as humanity,” says McClure. “We’re so divided into these communities — politically, culturally, economically — in our country that to find places of common strength, we then see our common connection… and there’s power in that.”


Go See It!

Nikki McClure: Cutting Her Own Path, 1996-2011

More Arts & Life

More OPB