“Social Paper” at Columbia College Chicago

The entrance of the “Social Paper” exhibit at Columbia College Chicago

Focusing on the significance of paper as artistic medium, the Columbia College exhibit “Social Paper: Hand Papermaking as Socially Engaging Art” stresses the contextual importance of the elements which make up a sheet of paper. Showcasing a number of projects and collaborations dealing with social issues and community-based creative outlets, “Social Paper” invites the viewer to look past paper as merely a printing surface.  A powerful medium able to convey information about regional dialect and agricultural life, hand papermaking allows local elements such as discarded fibers, plant life, and regional papermaking techniques to infuse the conceptual and social weight of a piece or body of work.

Co-curated by Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter, “Social Paper” is a well-organized and displayed exhibit pushing the boundaries not only concerning the way artists handle paper, but also the role of the artist as activist, teacher, and community figure. Housed in the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts gallery, “Social Paper” will be on view until April 15th. Way to go, Columbia College Chicago!

A photo of Trisha Martin’s “The Great Woman Project” in collaboration with Filipino artist Loreto Apilado.

As part of her project, Trisha Martin traveled to the Philippines to participate in The Great Woman Project. During her time there, she learned from artist Loreto Apilado how to harvest local crops and utilize them in regional papermaking processes. Here is a detail shot of one of her pieces.

Another detail shot of Trisha Martin’s “The Great Woman Project”.

The People’s Library had a large space in the “Social Paper” exhibit which displayed examples of their reconstructed books and personal histories. Based in Richmond, VA; The People’s Library utilizes discarded books to be remade and repurposed for the use of local histories. Members of the Richmond community are allowed to write their own personal histories in one of the reconstructed books, which is then included in the local library catalog.

Presented by artist Kiff Slemmons, handmade paper jewelry is displayed by papermakers of Arte Paper in Oaxaca, Mexico. Slemmons, who worked alongside members of Arte Papel, learned the history and skill of Oaxaca’s regional papermaking collective.

A detail shot of Kiff Slemmons’ Arte Papel Oaxaca piece.

Referencing the history of the telegraph, Julia Goodman explores the value of sending ten words via telegraph in 1850 through her piece “164 Years In Between”. Costing $1.50 then, Goodman invited 5 artists to relay their ten words at the current equivocal cost of $42.14. Goodman created two paper castings of each telegraph reproduction and gave one to the participant and hung one in the show.

A detailed shot of Julia Goodman’s “164 Years in Between” piece.

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