Matthew Shlian

Matthew Shlian is an artist/designer and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  His work extends from drawings to large scale installations to collaborations with leading scientists at the University of Michigan. His work for the National Science Foundation explores paper folding structures on the macro level translated to the nano-scale. His client list includes Ghostly International, Apple, P&G, Facebook, Levi’s, Sesame Street and the Queen of Jordan.  His work can be seen at and
Shlian is the first artist awarded the Frederick Hammersley Foundation Artist Residency at Tamarind Institute during 2017-2018.
Artist Statement:
As a paper engineer my work is rooted in print media, book arts and
commercial design.  Beginning with an initial fold, a single action
causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately
manifest in drawings and three dimensional forms.  I use my
engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture which have lead to
collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan.
Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific
principals; I see their inquiry as basis for artistic inspiration.  In
my studio I am a collaborator, explorer and inventor.  I begin with a
system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over.
Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final

realization; in this way I come to understanding through making.

Working with Tamarind printers, Shlian developed a series of prints that he reconstructed into dimensional forms, working with color families he titles Sherbert, Hell, Winter, Marble, and Murmur.