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.
Velvet Queen sunflowers in the Seeds InService bed.
Heirloom okra seeds in the Seeds InService bed.
Seeds InService Holiday Card
A card celebrating the partnership with the Hull House Seed Library featuring Jane Addams, Gertrude Stein and W.E.B. DuBois making handmade paper. Card printed on rye, abaca, and cotton sheets made and letterpress printed by Melissa Potter and Maggie Puckett. Rye supplied by Fresh Press.
Melissa Potter prints the card celebrating the partnership with the Hull House Seed Library. The card is letterpress printed on paper Potter and Puckett made at the Center for Book & Paper.
Ink drying on letterpressed cards. The finished cards were mailed as gifts to collaborators and supporters throughout the city of Chicago and nationally.
Mockup of heirloom seed embedded, handmade paper card with "The Right to Bear Seeds" manifesto. Featuring visionary Jane Addams. Design: Maggie Puckett.
Seed embedded pins 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 with artist and professor, 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.
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 I 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 and Pastry
An ongoing exploration of the intersection of food and art-making
took place over spring break in Belgrade, inspired in part by the Serbo-American Cookbook collaboration
between Columbia College InterArts graduate students and those at the
University of Belgrade. Friday, March 29, was a day both inventive and
delicious in collaboration with University of Belgrade Fine Arts
Professor Adam Pantic to present Pulp and Pastry.This
papermaking project explored interactivity and social practice-based
art in the same papermaking studio I created during my 2006 Fulbright
residency. Professor Pantic was one of the original team members who
built the studio, which is still in use today.
As part of the collaboration, Pantic cooked flatbreads and cakes made
from pulped vegetables, while I made paper from leeks with students.
Pantic, whose culinary nom de guerre is “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. His work often features food as a creative
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.