Check out the paper creations from this Emerging Artist at the Arts Festival this weekend

Cheong-ah Hwang is working on a new piece in her home studio. She's outlining, cutting and shaping paper for a piece that features birds flying and alighting on branches of a fruit bush. The process is captivating — mesmerizing, even, to the point where you forget that you're there to talk with her about how and why she does what she does.

Check the sensation for yourself this weekend at the Columbus Arts Festival, where Hwang will be exhibiting and selling her art as part of the festival's Emerging Artist program.

Hwang gravitated to this kind of work early. Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, she eschewed traditional introductory media such as pencil, ink and paint in favor of paper sculpture.

“I liked holding something, shaping something. I like taking things apart and putting things together,” Hwang said.

A disinclination to academics meant she wasn't long for art school in Korea, despite her desire to be a working artist and her growing skill, both with paper and as a sculptor. She eventually moved to live with her brother in Washington state, arriving on a student visa, meaning she was back in school. She gave art school another try at Ohio State University. Again with no conviction for the “school” part, Hwang dropped out, but not before encountering some new techniques she began to apply to her work with paper.

“I started out doing abstract, impressionistic work, to learn what the paper would do and what I could do with it. Over time, I moved into more detail-oriented, decorative, representative work,” Hwang said.

She married and is raising a family, all the while finding spare time to work on her art. Despite limited time to craft, Hwang has been featured in several group shows in recent years. Her work has also caught the attention of the publishing world, which has used her work on book covers, including Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales: For Young and Old.

Working with the Emerging Artist program is the beginning of what Hwang hopes is an intensified effort to pursue art full-time. She said the process has caused her to consider her work in ways she never has.

“There are things I never thought about. I was asked if my work is 2D or 3D. I said, ‘I don't know!' But I like that. I love the tension,” she said.

The author of a how-to book on paper art, Hwang plans to demonstrate her work at her Arts Festival booth as well. She enjoys sharing the process, as well as the result.

“While I'm working, there is a beauty to my work that no one can see but me,” Hwang said.

But you should definitely try.