Station Cases - Closing Interview with Artist Paolo Del Toro
Paolo Del Toro’s striking creation of fiber flora and fauna in the Station Cases challenged viewers by blurring the boundaries between ugly and beautiful, familiar and unfamiliar. Often inspired by fairy tales and myths, Del Toro’s foam and needle-felted wool creations confronted the traditional measure of beauty, as LNP writer Kathy Daminger noted in an interview with the artist. Del Toro forms incredible, larger-than-life creations, and the artist himself is no less fantastic. His vivid imagination pushes viewers to become more comfortable with seeing things that are slightly out of our comfort zone—to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable, a task many avoid grappling with. As his Station Cases exhibit winds down to a close, Del Toro was able to provide us with some wonderful insight into his work, the exhibit itself, and his feedback.
Where did you get the inspiration for your flora and fauna exhibit in the station cases?
Just my imagination really. Well, I don’t mean to talk down the imagination by saying just my imagination, but it’s a frame of mind that's easy to slip back into. The imagination is one of the best things about people, but it’s often treated as something trivial. Something we hear as kids are comments like, “oh, it’s just your imagination!”, or “stop imagining things!”. Using your imagination is one of the reasons childhood can be so magical, and there’s no reason whatsoever that has to stop. People thought this install was largely for the benefit of kids, but they’re mostly doing fine without that sort of thing. The truth is, it’s really for the adults. Anyways, I’m always daydreaming of all sorts of things and there was just a world and characters that popped into my mind one day.
How was the overall process of creating, installing, and showcasing your work at the train station for you? Did you like/dislike this project?
It was a lot of work, more than I had anticipated. It’s always fun making the needle-felted sculptures, but the process of stabbing the little barbed needles over and over to create their fuzzy effect can be pretty grueling at times. I always saw the characters in an environment, so I really wanted to make them as costumes too. It was a mad rush to get everything finished in time and I’m amazed how close the end results look to how I’d initially imaged them.
Do you have any suggestions for how the Station Case exhibit could be improved?
Not really. It is what it is, a big empty glass case in the train station. It’s rather mundane, but that’s part of the fun of filling it with something a little magical!
Do you have any tips or any advice for future artists displaying their work in the station cases?
Overall it was a nice project to take on, but if you’re looking to stretch the boundaries of the type of work that we tend to see here in Lancaster, anticipate some pushback. I think I threw myself into the project pretty hard and treated it more as a labor of love than anything. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from the project, but also a fair amount of negative. Don’t take it to heart. I’m going to be one of those people who quotes something cheesy, so brace yourselves. “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”.