If you look closely enough at Rita Wolfson’s one-of-a-kind crafty creations, you’ll see little triangles of patterns cut from paper and arranged into pleasing compositions onto a variety of items both decorative and useful. Her recycled, re-inspired and re-created designs find their way onto vases, glass paperweight bottoms, bookmarks, coasters, jewelry, ornaments, picture frames, and anything else that happens to spark her imagination. According to Rita, the papers she uses come from anywhere and everywhere.
Boston born Rita’s first experience working with paper was designing a pin by covering up the printed matter on it with paper from a Museum of Fine Arts catalog. “I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing, but my fingers seemed to take over and lead the way,” she says. She uses just about any discarded paper that catches her eye — whether from magazines and catalogs, cereal boxes, menus, wrapping papers or birthday cards — deconstructing it and then re-assembling the pieces, giving it a whole new twist. As she puts it, “I see beauty in all kinds of paper and my fingers feel the beauty.” She emphasizes that these projects all have to do with paper that has been discarded and then recycled into a new life.
I asked Rita what her favorite creation she has made is. She insists she does not have a favorite, but that she enjoys and loves everything she makes.
All sales proceeds from her re-created items are donated to charities and organizations, which include The Renal Transplant Unit at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, The Fragile X Foundation, The Lupus Foundation NE, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, The Learning Prep, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Harry Gloss Scholarship Fund at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UMass Boston (a lifelong learning program for people 50 and older, of which she has been a member since it began almost 13 years ago).
“OLLI has been exceedingly kind to me and I show my wares there at least three times a year. I have partnered with a local book store called Back Pages and have shown there several times, too.”
Even though Rita does not think of herself an artist, she derives pleasure from the creative process and from the benefits of her efforts.
Where does she do her work? “I work mostly at the kitchen table. I can look out at the Charles River and that makes for a very peaceful atmosphere. For me my work is creating, giving to charity, and helping to clean up the environment.”
Picking up on popular culture’s current fascination with all things having to do with cupcakes, she got the idea one day to try to fashion her own version as a holiday ornament. She went home and started designing them, playing around with paper and glitter, and the final result was a shimmering colorful cake platter full of ornaments in shiny foil cupcake wrappers.
She displayed them recently at a holiday gift table she set up at a daytime art lecture at OLLI UMass Boston, where they sparkled sweetly in the light that came through the windows.