Melissa Hilliard Potter,  Sex Work is Work: Papermaker’s Garden , 2016, Courtesy of the artist

Melissa Hilliard Potter, Sex Work is Work: Papermaker’s Garden, 2016, Courtesy of the artist

Pulp as Portal: Socially Engaged Hand Papermaking

May 10 - July 23, 2017


As an extension of the broad survey Social Paper, co-curated by Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter in 2014, Pulp as Portal adds to the growing discourse around the contemporary art of hand papermaking as socially engaged art. The exhibition reveals the artist’s book—specifically bookworks, publications, zines, and printed matter—as both artwork and outcome: How do hand papermakers today animate the ethos of social engagement, activism, community, and collectivity in the processes they employ to make paper? How are these ideas at play and embodied in the resulting books and printed matter?

As an important emergent genre of the new century, socially engaged art, or, social practice, is broadly characterized by artists’ emphasis on community, democracy, social change, participation, and, in the case of hand papermaking, pedagogy. While bookmaking, printmaking, and hand papermaking have long been deeply intertwined as creative practices that naturally lend themselves to collaboration, we are seeing more recently the idea of “the collective” purposefully and reflexively embraced and incorporated by hand papermakers beyond the studio, both in process and product. This is manifest specifically through community-based workshops, papermakers’ gardens, grassroots libraries, and participatory installations, and it is happening internationally. Through such platforms, artists can creatively assert, through collaborative craft, the deep relevance of conviviality, skill sharing, and the printed word in an increasingly paperless, technology-driven world.

The exhibition includes work by past SAC Paperworks papermakers-in-residence Julia GoodmanDrew Matott, and Robert Possehl, created while in residence at the Art Center’s Warehouse. Other artists include: Kevin BaslBook Bombs/Michelle Wilson & Mary Tasillo,Laura Anderson Barbata, Stephanie Barrale and Michael Dunican, Drew CameronCombat Paper ProjectGreg DelantyMegan DiddieAngela Davis FeganFresh Press at the University of IllinoisMegan HeeresKaren Heft & Alan GovenarHelen HiebertTatana KellnerAlison KnowlesNathan LewisLove Positive WomenMargaret MahanPapermaker’s Pack/Jillian Bruschera & Maxum BruscheraAlva MoosesHeidi Neilson & Chris Patrone, Peace Paper ProjectThe People’s Paper Co-opMark Strandquist & Courtney BowlesThe Poetry Foundation/Nick Dubois, Melissa Potter, Robert Possehl, Dallas Price, Maggie PuckettJohn RisseeuwSeeds InServiceMegan SingletonPeter & Donna Thomas, and others.

Related Programming: The Rhinoceros Project, June 26 & 27

This exhibition has been organized by The Center for Book Arts with special support from the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts.