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Paper Sample: momi INDIANA for Katarina Weslien, Walking Kailash

Summer 2017
Summer 2017
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Andrea Peterson  is an artist and educator. She lives and creates work in northwest Indiana at Hook Pottery Paper, a studio and gallery co-owned with her husband. She teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a 2016/17 recipient of an Indiana Arts Council grant. She combines paper arts, printmaking, and book arts to make works that address the human relationship to the environment. Julie Poitras Santos's artwork and public walking projects have been exhibited widely in the US and abroad in Europe and Scandinavia. Also a writer, she studies areas where art and language intersect. Poitras Santos lives in Portland, Maine and teaches part-time in the MFA program at Maine College of Art. In 2006, Katarina Weslien circumambulated Mount Kailash in the Tibet Autonomous Region with renowned Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman. On the walk, she stopped to collect water at the Lake of Compassion, a sacred place for four major religions. One of the highest sources of fresh water on earth, melt waters from the area feed tributaries that are sources of the Brahmaputra River, Indus River, and the Ganges. Since that time, Weslien has collected water from sacred sites around the world. In 2012, while a visiting artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Weslien brought a microscope into the studio to study the collected water in greater detail. Her investigation revealed patterns in the water, not unlike topographic maps of the mountainous regions where she collected it. Working with these images, she embroidered drawings in thread on hand-spun silk fabric.  In the summer of 2016, I curated Platform Projects/Walks, bringing together artists, including Weslien, to investigate the theme of walking as art practice.

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During a studio visit,1 Weslien and I discussed her practice of collecting water at sacred sites, and I noted the resemblance of the embroidered drawings to maps. Could she walk them? Walking Kailash is a project born from these intersections.  Weslien has created a beautiful handmade paper "kit" to send to fourteen artists sited all over the world. I received one in Port¬land, Maine. The kit invites us to respond to its contents—a stitched map on cloth-like paper intricately folded in the form of a monk's hat, a vial for collecting water, a circle of red string, and a set of instructions asking us to translate this map into our own circular santos walk while considering the premise of compassion. Inviting our par¬ticipation and interpretation, Walking Kailash functions as a kind of open text. "The ‘open text,' by definition," notes Lyn Hejinian, "is open to the world and particularly the reader. It invites participa¬tion, rejects the authority of the writer over the reader and thus, by analogy, the authority implicit in other \[…\] hierarchies."2 By sharing authorship in Walking Kailash, Weslien's project is more generative rather than directive. In Portland, I invited local community members to join me for a walk around Back Cove. On a blustery winter day, we walked and discussed the history of the location, recent city planning, littoral plant life and fauna, and the advent of algal blooms due to global warming. We collected water and learned from our diverse partic¬ipants. We made stops indicated on our map and held it, circled around together, as it fluttered cloth-like in the wind. Inherent to much of Weslien's work is a commitment to slowing down so that awareness is widened and deepened. This happened in Portland; walking with our handmade paper map in hand, we expanded our sense of compassion.   notes 1. This studio visit was chronicled in an article published in THE CHART vol. 2, no. 1: (September/ October 2016). Excerpts from this article are revisited here.  2. Hejinian, Lyn. "The Rejection of Closure," from The Language of Inquiry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 43. paper production notes—andrea peterson It seems counterintuitive to cut cloth, macerate it into pulp, pig¬ment and form it into paper, and scrunch it into a ball—all to mimic cloth. As an admirer of momigami (the Japanese term for crinkled, kneaded Japanese paper), I have always wondered how one could mimic that look and feel using all the inherent qualities of cotton rag. After a number of experiments over the years, I was able to finish this research by working with Katarina Weslien on developing momiINDIANA, of which a sample appears above. The paper is made of 100 percent cotton rag beaten in a Reina beater, internally sized, formed Western style on an 18 x 24-inch mould, and pressed. I scrunched each damp sheet into a ball and opened it back up, laying it flat to air dry. Once dried, I burnished, starched, and ironed the sheets. The finished sheets shrunk down to approxi¬mately 16½ x 22½ inches.