Changing Nature of Place
Last fall recent Printmaking graduates Laura Post MFA 16 PR and Kate Aitchison MFA 16 PR experimented with papermaking techniques and materials along the San Juan River in southern Utah. “We lived in an Airstream trailer for about a month and studied the viability of making paper from invasive and native plant species using sustainable water resources,” Aitchison explains.
Thanks to funding from a RISD Graduate Studies Grant, the two printmakers were able to collect samples of Coyote Willow, Utah Mulberry, Tamarisk and Russian Olive. They then boiled and beat the fibers on site and returned the river water to its source.
Through the project, the two women also launched their own own paper production collective called The Paper Genome Project.
While the residents of Providence were in the southwest, they took the opportunity to conduct artist workshops in the area, including one at the Bluff Arts Festival in Bluff, UT.
“We also presented at the Friends of Dard Hunter papermaking conference in Santa Fe and contributed to a panel on sustainability,” Aitchison notes. “The experience added another dimension to our work and contributed to our ongoing discussions about the changing nature of place.”
“As far as we know, we’re the first to make paper from these materials,” says Aitchison. “We created sheets out of each plant, [discovering that] the different plants reveal vastly different papers, colors and textures.”
As a new associate professor, master printmaker Megan Foster 00 PR is looking forward to working with and learning from RISD students.
As a Printmaking major, Henry McClellan 18 PR has found an ideal framework for creating visual narratives on his own terms.
These days, when people think about borders, fences and the American West, they can hardly help but think about the polarizing debate over illegal immigration.