Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paper Nerds and the Future

I've just returned from the Friends of Dard Hunter Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia feeling enthusiastic about the future of hand papermaking and its potential impact on the art world. Let me take a moment to clarify what I mean by art world in this context. I'm not thinking about the world of commercial galleries and museums, which have a questionable future and a questionable impact in my book. I'm thinking about how creativity functions in the social sphere.

On the themes of art, sustainability, and social change:

  • Combat Paper Project shared updates on their recent tours, as well as holding a demonstration featuring a bicycle-powered portable beater built by Lee Scott McDonald.
  • I presented the Book Bombs public paper and print project by Michelle Wilson and myself, within the context of other projects engaging multiple approaches to sustainability.
  • Also on my panel, Patterson Clark discussed his full-cycle approach to sustainable practices of making paper, prints, and inks from invasive plants.
  • Students from University of Alabama, alongside ring-leader Steve Miller, lead conference participants in making banana fiber paper, educating about methods for making paper from these cultivated plants, skills that are necessary if we are to transition into utilizing local plant fibers.
Most encouraging was the enthusiasm with which the sustainability question was embraced. Amy Richards, a papermaker who works for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants in Florida was on hand to offer the resources of her Center.

While many of us traveled from afar to be at this meeting, my hope is that by sharing this energy, our information, and the generous community that papermakers foster, the future impact on how we all exist and create in the world will be worth the environmental impact of our travel, of the book arts jet set mentality. I made a call for Slow Papermaking, and I stand by it, but slowing down and making change takes time. There may be some lofty idealism here in this hope...but why not?