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 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.
My collaborators on the project, Adam Pantić and Jillian Bruschera of the Mobile Mill helped build my 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
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.
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
Co-curated by Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter
According its proponents, socially engaged art blurs the lines between
politics, community organizing and art. Projects such as community
gardens and centers, interactive and multi-generational workshops,
educational programs, and public art invoke the spirit of urgent social
transformation. The exhibition initiative Social Paper charts
the evolution of the art of hand papermaking in relation to recent
discourse around socially engaged art and points specifically to craft,
labor and site specificity, as well as the collaborative and community
aspects of hand papermaking as contemporary art practice.
urban elementary schools to indigenous tribes in Latin America to
communities of international war veterans, hand papermaking artists and
practitioners translate this medium into meaningful activity with
diverse constituencies. To date, no major exhibitions or discourse
around this important and timely theme exist. This exhibition will
contribute to new scholarship in the field of craft arts and
specifically hand papermaking, as well as feature the work of the Center
for Book and Paper Arts, a unique institution in Chicago, and the world
that supports critical discourse and interdisciplinary activity in the
book and paper arts. Visit our Social Paper exhibition blog.
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 my Columbia College Chicago graduate students.
Pulp, A Love Story
Papermaking in Serbia? For more than ten years, artist Melissa Potter
has had to explain what she does for a living-wherever she does it.
Through professor Vlada Veljasević’s illustrations and storyline, this
book chronicles Potter’s Fulbright award adventures opening a
papermaking studio at the University of Belgrade and celebrates the
amazing relationships formed while teaching the art form in a country
almost entirely unaware of its existence. This brief “how to” is meant
to inspire future generations of artists and papermakers to develop
their own projects in places equally unfamiliar and wonderful.