Paper — a reason to give pause.

So much time is spent looking down at our phones instead of observing the world around us. Not surprisingly a British plastic surgeon coined the phrase “Smartphone face” to describe the sagging jowls, “Marionette lines” and double chins he believes are a consequence from the constant downward gaze. Whether or not Smartphone face is an actual epidemic is debatable. An undeniable epidemic however is the lost art of observation.

On the street, in the park and even at museums, email, texts and Twitter compete for our attention and usually win. How inspiring it is to find an artist like Isabelle de Borchgrave whose work begs us to stop, look, and then look again at her magnificent creations. In her studio in Belgium, she creates exquisite visual feasts from the wardrobes of history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. From afar they are astonishingly beautiful and even more so when one realizes, upon closer examination, that they are all made of paper.

Isabelle de Borchgrave cuts, folds, glues and paints the paper the way, “a virtuoso plays an instrument” according to her great admirer Herbert de Givenchy. Her work beckons us to look closely and appreciate the extraordinary technique and attention to detail. Awe-inspiring is the only way to describe it.

Thank you, Isabelle de Borchgrave, for reminding us of what it feels like to be in awe.

Samantha Boardman MD
Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry and Public Health
Assistant Attending Psychiatrist
Weill Cornell Medical College