All Exhibitions

Handmade Paper Stories

Feb 25–May 18, 2022


Subverting traditional hierarchies of paper, four contemporary artists employ paper making’s ancient vocabulary and techniques to collapse medium, support, and subject into sublime expressions of color and texture. Their handmade paper is itself a kind of visual poetry that evokes both emotions and experiences.

Hannah O’Hare Bennett’s and Mary Hark’s paper making practices developed out of their long careers in textiles and agriculture, respectively. They seek to showcase the endless potential for creative expression rooted in the mediums themselves. Bennett’s oversized silky sheets with richly pigmented layers of pulp capture nascent fiber bonds; they read like microscopic cross sections of plant stems. In contrast, Hark completely transforms the material. Her adamantine sheets of tight cellulose bonds repose in luscious, stately stacks of opaque color and textural abundance.

Maria Amalia Wood’s and Henry Obeng’s autobiographical narratives are composed of and embedded in handmade paper, expanding the medium’s utilitarian legacy beyond the surface alone. As a child, Wood immigrated with her family to Wisconsin from Honduras, an experience that is visually imprinted in her memories and work. Her earthy, small-scale folios in organic shapes with irregular holes and stemlike bindings are meant to embody the colorful leaves of her first autumn in the Midwest. Similarly, Obeng, a Ghanaian national, transforms thrifted old University of Wisconsin Badger red tee-shirts into hundreds of handmade rag-paper documents echoing passports and visas—a reference to his experience as an international student.

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