Seeds InService: A Papermaking Institute (website) is an ecofeminist art project by Melissa Potter and Maggie Puckett that combines feminist and ecological concerns. Papermaking plants grow in gardens curated each year around themes including Women’s Health, Las Mujeres Zapatistas, Pre-Colonial Gardens, Bosnian Women’s Magic, and War Gardens: Seeds of Displacement. Fibers grown from these plants become raw material for art works, collaborations, research and workshops.
Pulp & Pastry
Hosted at the University of Sarajevo, Adam Pantic and I made pita and handmade paper with fruits and vegetables sourced at Sarajevo’s famous Markale green market. We were joined by special guest, papermaker and founder of The Mobile Mill, Jillian Bruschera. She launched her new invention, The Papermaker's Pack.
We each brought our personal histories to the project: Pantic through his memories of military academy in Sarajevo during his youth, which he explores through his culinary nom de guerre, “Djulistan, PhD in Oriental Sweets” and me through a Bosnian woman I wrote during the Bosnian war and was reunited with 20 years later in her Bosnian village.
The project also reflected one of the most important works of my career, which took place 9 years earlier through my first Fulbright Scholar award: the construction of a hand papermaking studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. Pantic masterminded the studio construction and taught hand papermaking in the studio while I was in residence. Our mutual understanding has been through media and materials that engage audiences in participatory events and extend traditional academic art practice into intersections of craft, traditional culture, ethnography, documentary, and performance.
A series of pedagogically-based collaborations Melissa Potter designed for artists such as Alison Knowles, the Guerrilla Girls, Laura Anderson Barbata, and Yanomami community leader, Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë to create limited editions and engage with Columbia College Chicago Interdisciplinary Arts graduate students.
Working on a collaboration with The Guerrilla Girls making banana paper for a student interactive activist poster workshop.
Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë (right) works with Book & Paper alumni, Haley Nagy and Don Widmer.
Book & Paper alumna, Kaitlin Kostus (left) works on one of Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë.
Working for the Taller Intensivo el Libro y Papel in Caracas, Venezuela.
Working on the design for an artists' book interpreting Yanomami history for Taller Intensivo el Libro y Papel in Caracas.
Creating limited editions for Laura Anderson Barbata celebrating the legacy of Julia Pastrana.
Book & Paper alumna, Boo Gilder creates papel picado-inspired pulp paintings for Laura Anderson Barbata.
Belgrade’s sister-city, Chicago is known as the Serbian center of the United States with an unverified, but estimated population of 400,000. Since World War 1, the Serbian diaspora tried to create relationships to a homeland in nearly constant flux through wars, national affiliations, and secessions. This project explores the shifting context of Serbian experience through a series of interviews with multi-generational artists and curators who describe the conditions that shaped the experiences of Serbs as they made the US their home, and acclimated to a post-Yugoslavian society. Selected quotes from the interviews are paired with images by Potter and Rappaport in their Chicago Serbian neighborhood, and in Belgrade where they both traveled in 2003. They reveal individual experiences that offer a brief window into the ways in which culture and politics shape our interpretations of belonging and homeland.
Dorijan Kolundzija, artist and curator discusses the Serbian Millennial response to a war culture they never experienced firsthand. Image of graffiti in Dorčol, Belgrade by Melissa Potter
Matt Pavich, 2nd Generation Serbian-American, talks about the atmosphere in Belgrade during the NATO bombing of the city. Photo of a mural depicting the Montenegrian coast at the Serbian American Museum, Chicago by Mat Rappaport
Branislav Dmitrijević, curator and critic, discusses work by Mladen Bizumić about a recently renovated Tito-era hotel in Belgrade. Image from JAT headquarters in Irving Park, Chicago by Mat Rappaport
Craft Power: Tusheti Rugs is a series of flax handmade paper laminated el wires, which illuminate when plugged in. They are part of a research project with Paul Catanese called Handmade Media. Through this project, we are exploring the intersection of hand crafted media with handmade paper. I created these works inspired by the crafts symbol system in the Republic of Georgia, where it is understood some of the images may be derived from ancient Amazonian cults celebrating female power. They were featured in the San Antonio city-wide exhibition, Luminaria.
Flax handmade paper laminates, pulp painting, and el wire embeds by Melissa Potter