Seeds InService: A Papermaking Institute is an initiative of Melissa Potter and Maggie Puckett to explore the intersections of the art of hand papermaking with gardening, social practice, community engagement, and creative pedagogy in The Papermaker’s Garden at Columbia College Chicago. The project engages multiple collaborations and social practice artworks from Potter and Puckett's work over the past five years.
By planting heirloom vegetables and flowers also usable for papermaking fiber from the Hull House Seed Library, this project honors the legacy of Jane Addams, a Nobel Prize winner, and underrepresented American historical figure who founded The Hull House in 1889. Domestic and culinary crafts were central to Addams’ radical social reformism.
An onion tart recipe created by Melissa Potter to honor Jane Addams, designed by Maggie Puckett.
Velvet Queen sunflowers in the Seeds InService bed.
Velvet Queen seed packet designed by Melissa Potter honoring the prostitutes who worked on this location in the early 1900s. Seeds are harvested from the heirloom plants grown in the bed.
A view of the Papermaker's Garden at Columbia College where the Seeds InService project lives.
Seed packets letterpress printed on handmade corn paper with fiber from the Papermaker's Garden and filled with seeds from that same corn.
A card designed by Melissa Potter and Maggie Puckett celebrating the partnership with the Hull House Seed Library featuring Jane Addams, Gertrude Stein and W.E.B. DuBois making handmade paper.
Letterpress printing holiday cards on paper with fiber from Fresh Press, Illinois.
Seed embedded pins designed by Melissa Potter memorializing the women who worked in brothels at the location of the Papermaker's Garden back in the early 1900s.
Pulp and Pastry
In spring 2015, Melissa Potter will be in residence on a Fulbright Scholar grant at the University of Fine Arts in Sarajevo doing a project with Jillian Bruschera and Adam Pantić inspired by a performance at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Belgrade called Pulp and Pastry.
Both food and hand papermaking reflect their places of origin and carry their cultural histories, and are made through labor with many of the same materials.Through ethnographic research, gardening, and papermaking, this project engages papermaking with the intangible heritage of Bosnian women by collecting and investigating regionally-specific recipes. Through papermaking collaborations and video interviews, both men and women are invited to describe how food carries their personal histories and memories.
Adam Pantić helped build the first papermaking studio in Belgrade, Serbia. His culinary nom de guerre, “Djulistan, Ph.D. in Oriental Sweets,” uses the diverse characteristics of food and paper as art media to play on the collection of old recipes from his time in military service in Bosnia. He will travel to Sarajevo to collaborate on this project.
Handmade paper with leeks
Working in the papermaking studio founded on my 2006 Fulbright in Belgrade
Students make leek paper
Adam Pantić moves his kitchen into the paper studio
Adam Pantić makes food from pulped vegetables
Pulp and Pastry team
Feminist Felt is a collaboration by Melissa Potter with women in the Republic of Georgia, Miriam Schaer, the Women’s Fund in Georgia. It grew out of a Soros Arts and Culture grant program, Felted Lives: Crafting Women’s Stories. The works embrace feminist activism for women’s basic rights to safety as well as advocacy for women craft artisans, whose skills are endangered, underpaid and under recognized.
A collaboration with artist activist groups and women craft unions in the Republic of Georgia engaged the ancient Georgian craft of felt making to explore contemporary artists books, as well as protest banners and masks, which have been used in Georgian feminist and LGBTQIA marches and protests. These craft practices are in urgent need of intangible heritage preservation. Simultaneously, women's empowerment movements have taken Georgia into its second wave of feminism, and they oppose the oppressive gender regulations of an Orthodox society, at times to their personal endangerment.
Equal Pay for Equal Work, designed with Ida Bakhturidze, Miriam Schaer, Nana Magradze, and Clifton Meador
Equal Pay for Equal Work, designed by Melissa Potter in handmade felt
Melissa Potter and Ida Bakhturidze in a Georgian village credit union.
No Violence, designed by Ida Bakhturidze and an Alvani workshop participant in handmade felt.
Ida Bakhturidze and Melissa Potter in front of the Alvani school.
My Body, My Choice, designed by Ida Bakhturidze and Melissa Potter
Listen to Women! Designed by Independent Group of Feminists members in Tbilisi, Georgia
Women's Rights are Human Rights, designed by Ida Bakhturizde
Tbilisi's first International Women's Day march with banners
From the collection of ethnographer, Robert Chenciner
Women in Alvani share their Tusheti traditional design
Ida Bakhturidze, Melissa Potter and Miriam Schaer at the Georgian border of Daghestan.
Jersey Devil felt mask, designed by Melissa Potter
Ida Bakhturidze wearing bunny mustache mask designed by Melissa Potter
Women's Fund in Georgia founder, Nana Pantsulaia and her feminist mask.
Felted masked activism at protests against virginity testing in Tbilisi.
Craft Power: Tusheti Rugs
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 by Melissa Potter and 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
As part of the exhibition, Construction at Columbia College Chicago's A + D Gallery, Melissa Potter created an interactive project using the BEM Sex Role Inventory to engage audiences on the topic of gender roles, play, and stereotypes. The Gender Assignment blog explored the findings from a personal, artistic, and collaborative interview process. The findings from more than 100 tests during this exhibition are here.