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Lynn Sures Nariokotome Boy, 2017. Colored pencil on handmade kenaf paper, 16″ × 24″. (Lynn Sures )

Saturday, October 27. “The Nexus of Being and Place: Interpreting Human Origins in Handmade Paper,” Lynn Sures ✧ “The Driving Force of the Universe Made Visible,” Heather Peters ✧ “Printmaking with Dirca Bark Paper,” Zachary Hudson and Andrew Zandt

Lynn Sures reported on her work funded by the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship into early human and animal origins, beginning with drawings of fossils on her own handmade abaca, flax and hemp paper. After research in museum collections in Washington DC, she traveled to Kenya with her handmade kenaf paper to document archeological sites where early human remains had been found along with evidence of tools and tool making, or “the development of the ‘maker’ in a species that directly preceded ours.” All of these drawings were then reinterpreted in pulp paintings. On the process she says, “These drawings are very literal. I’m trying to understand who I am looking at.” 

Backlit view of a page of paper chromatography samples from FF Runge’s 1855 book Der Bildungstrieb Der Stoffe at The Getty Research Institute. (Heather Peters)

Heather Peters told the story of FF Runge, a German scientist who researched paper chromatography in the 1850s. His experiments produced beautiful and colorful patterns, reminiscent of Rorschach tests in their symmetry and bursting nebula clouds in their color (pictured here). These images are made as a mixture travels through the space between the cellulose fiber of an unsized sheet of paper. The separate components travel at different speeds, creating distinctive colors and shapes. Runge self-published his experiments, which included chromatography samples and recipes. This process studies the movement of molecules through time and “illustrates the depth of a piece of paper, which is often thought of as a two-dimensional object.”

Ashia Healy, “Forever Ago,” relief print on Dirca mexicana bark paper, 2018, 9″ × 12″. The artist wrote the title and her signature on the back of the image which is why the text is backwards. (Andrew Zandt)

Zachary Hudson & Andrew Zandt produced paper from the plant Dirca mexicana, which is commonly known as leatherwood or thongwood. Under the guidance of Tim Barrett, the duo harvested the plant and produced paper using nagashizuki techniques. The sheets were tested by printmakers using lithography, relief, intaglio, collagraphy, screen printing and ink jet printing. Comparing their results with prints on paper made from gampi, the paper from Dirca mexicana generally produced prints with a larger tonal range and nicely saturated areas of solid color. The paper required less ink for printing which preserved image detail. Though the paper is potentially very useful for printmakers, the Dirca mexicana plant is somewhat rare and very difficult to cultivate.  

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