Deep-Diving the Morgan
Last year, I completed a series of workshops at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation. I am primarily a painter and anticipated that my experimenting with paper-based art making would enrich the “dialogue” always underway between my painting and other media. Throughout my immersion there, I was being treated for cancer and felt driven to participate in multiple workshops to sustain myself artistically despite this challenge.
In Velma Bolyard’s workshop Plant Alchemy AS Paper & ON Paper, I found a rich, satisfying beginning. I had no experience with what color a plant or seed might give up to the fiber when cooked. This allowed for a playful experimentation that Velma encouraged – a “there are no mistakes” freedom that paradoxically served as the context for her to teach which steps in the process could not vary. She passed on her knowledge with stories of both her own mistakes and victories.
In Korean Papermaking & Hanji Crafts workshop Aimee Lee taught that a simple foundation of hand movements and treatments of material undergird a broad range of applications. She presented material through stories of her own transformation as an artist and brought an abundance of examples of papers, handmade books, and paper clothing for us to touch and use as starting points for questions.
Claudio Orso’s Carving a New Groove returned me to the blade and block. His enthusiasm and ability to situate wood block carving and printing in an historical context served to inspire participants to experiment. HIS experimentation showed how skill might inform intuitive choices in the use of materials and the making of an image.
My 2013 workshop season concluded with Big-Ass Papermaking taught by Julie McLaughlin. We pulled sheets of paper as large as 6’ x 9’ and this required a village! Two of us would get into the vat of kozo pulp and water and stir it barefoot. Then, as a team, we would submerge a large screen to catch the pulp. It was exhilarating when we knew we had pulled a good one!
The Morgan is a community where an artful way of knowing can flourish. Instructors consistently create conditions that support the novice becoming competent and confident. Students are able to grow and explore in an environment that meets their creative needs.
My first season at the Morgan rekindled my desire to incorporate new materials, forms and processes into my art-making, and is changing how I think about the purpose and means of my painting. It is not yet clear what the ultimate effect will be, but what I have learned in these workshops has affirmed my sculptural aspirations and shown me ways to bridge between two-dimensional and three-dimensional aspects of my work.
For complete information about upcoming classes, go to morganconservatory.org.
The Morgan Conservatory
1754 East 47th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44103