Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Weekend Paper

The title of this post is a nod to Helen Hiebert's Sunday Paper posts, which are of course a nod to printed newspaper traditions. With the closing of my school year and two solo shows and some fall projects coming up (stay tuned!), I've been metaphorically juggling and spinning plates and walking a tightrope all at once, so, as usual, this post is a bit belated.

The first weekend of June was the opening at E.M. Wolfman for Sub Set, a collective of papermakers Rebecca Redman, Hope Amico, Alyssa Casey, and Elizabeth Boyne.

Sub Set has been working collaboratively, getting together as a group and trading materials and unfinished projects, exchanging them between as a collective "what if?" On the night of the opening, I recall asking one of the artists who made one of the pieces, and the answer was that someone made the paper and then another person drew on it and then another person....etc. To be more clear, authorship of the show was a collaborative whole.

Which gave the show an incredible energy. The artists are exploring the concept of workmanship of risk, the only limitations are the materials they had in front of them at the time. As someone who collaborates frequently myself, I can see how these experiments are opening these artists up and building a momentum for future possibilities.

The artists will be running a fundraising campaign later this year to raise money to purchase a Hollander beater - stayed tuned to their website to find out how you can contribute.

The following day was one of the ProArts Open Studios weekends, and I swung by Julia Goodman's to see some of her new large cast paper works in person.

(That's the floor in the bottom right corner of the photo above; these pieces are about five feet tall).

These pieces are rugged and topographical; she allows snippets of the bed sheets and clothing she uses to appear as reminders of her origin material. All her colors are from the clothing she uses, no added pigment or dyes.

Some of them, particularly her smaller pieces like this one, are almost a cross between pulp painting and casting.

I couldn't help thinking how Julia references the origins of her materials. They feel intimately connected to the earth, via the plants that grew her fibers, the soil that nourished the plants. Recently I've been told that the Bay Area has an enormous amount of waste clothing choking our landfills, with the additions of nylon and other petroleum-based fibers into our wearables, they aren't breaking down like they will if they were solely natural materials. Julia's work interrupts this cycle, turning waste fiber into art.

Some of her beet papyrus pieces were also on display:

Reflecting on these two exhibitions, first and foremost, I'm excited by the directions my papermaking community is exploring. Further, I was also struck by how much of what my fellow papermakers do is informed by community and collaboration (Sub Set, Julia's work with Creative Explored), and how coming together with others is such a catalytic force in this medium. The same fibers that make up paper also bring papermakers, new ideas, and new energies together.

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