Outside the box

Artist Paul Lazes’ assemblages are created from discarded cardboard boxes.


With his latest venture, artist Paul Lazes is thinking outside the box, or rather using the outside of boxes as a medium. His most recent series of sculptural wall art is constructed from strips cut from cardboard boxes and reconfigured into various abstract, three-dimensional shapes.

The colorful wall hanging pieces are currently on exhibit at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse’s Art Space, where they will be on view through the end of the month. The pieces range in size from around a foot to three feet. Each is made from a single deconstructed box, with the color-coordinated strips layered in such a way as to create a sort of asymmetrical nest effect. Although some strips feature some letters or words, you would otherwise never guess that the striking sculptural pieces are actually upcycled boxes.

Lazes was inspired in his latest endeavor when he found himself with a supply of empty cardboard boxes after a move a couple of years ago. “I had a bunch of boxes I didn’t want to go to the dump,” he says. “I decided to cut them up and make pieces of art.”

The title of the exhibit is “Cartboard.” Lazes refers to his pieces as assemblages rather than sculptures. He collected all of the materials from Cronig’s Market, where he was offered the opportunity to scavenge through their piles of empty boxes before they were crushed and destined for disposal. “What I like about them is taking something that’s being discarded and making them into something really beautiful,” he says.

Lazes, who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 1980, has been experimenting with different artforms since moving from Long Island to the Vineyard in 2000. Previously, he created art installations that were exhibited at A Gallery, a series of larger-than-life photographs of women he calls “Tough Chicks on Martha’s Vineyard” that hangs at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and, most recently, he completed a series of 100 graphite drawings he has titled “Suite Dudes of the Vineyard.”

“All of my work is grounded in concepts as well as formal beauty,” says Lazes.

Lazes’ brother Rick, who lives in North Carolina, is an internationally recognized three-dimensional artist who, like his brother, is constantly experimenting with different media including wood, plaster, stainless steel, glass, Plexiglas, and marble. In 2020, the M.V. Museum hosted an outdoor exhibit of individual installations of work by the two brothers.

As well as working in visual art, Lazes is a musician who has played with various bands on the Island. He often performed with his son, Avery, until the latter left the Island to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“Cartboard,” an exhibit of assemblages by Paul Lazes, will hang at the M.V. Playhouse’s lobby Art Space through April 1. The gallery is open from 1 until 4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.