The Morgan: Reaching out and Expanding Our Community
The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation is a Cleveland non-profit with a hand papermaking studio, bindery and letterpress studios and an art gallery that has received national and international acclaim. What you may not know, is that it also has a thriving outreach program right here in northeast Ohio. Classes that teach the arts of Eastern- and Western-style hand papermaking, paper casting, book binding, paper marbling, letterpress and poster press printing are offered on- and off-site. The Morgan tailors each program to the skill level and interest of the participants. From Bassett Elementary School in Westlake to the Shaker Lakes Garden Club to Rainey Institute on East 55th in Cleveland, the groups who partner with the Morgan are diverse, and the results are always spectacular. Hand papermaking and related arts are intrinsically connected to botany, history, international culture and industry, leaving no questions as to why the Morgan really does have something to offer everyone.
One of the most notable programs took place at Hudson Montessori School for their 50th anniversary celebration. The school wanted to host a program which included all of their students–from 2.5 year olds through middle school–that would result in a unique work of art for permanent display to commemorate this anniversary. The Morgan teamed up for a week-long residency where they taught students that paper could be (and was once) solely made by hand.
Using small molds and deckles and brightly pigmented cotton pulp, students practiced pulling sheets of paper in the western-style and then went to town embellishing by squirting other colors of pulp before it was pressed, a process commonly known as pulp painting. This laid the groundwork for the activities of the final two days, when the Morgan’s Creative Director, renowned artist Tom Balbo, taught the students to cast paper the way he does in his own studio practice. Objects were arranged on vacuum tables, and vibrant pulp was hand scooped on top. Montessori math tools were also embedded into the pulp and one section was designed to emulate the 50th anniversary logo. Once the low relief paper panels were dry and removed from the boxes, they were stitched to stretched canvas, preserved behind acrylic and hung at the school. Students observed the installation process and pointed out the sections they created to teachers and parents.
Morgan outreach is not limited to youth programming. Several local garden clubs have enjoyed bringing native plant species including Hosta and Day Lily to the Morgan to beat into pulp from which to pull paper. Recently, The Art Therapy Studio incorporated hand papermaking into their annual staff retreat day which they scheduled at the Morgan. The result was the best staff retreat we have ever had, according to one of the participants. Other programs have included bookbinding with Progressive Arts Alliance and Open Doors Academy, papermaking with inclusions with Edinboro University, and letterpress printing with the University of Akron to name just a few.
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