Pulp Function

“Pulp Function” exhibit at Michener Art Museum this spring demonstrates the ultimate in paper recycling
Michener Art Museum from March 28 through June 28, 2009

Deborah Baldizar


From a floor-length gown made of 1,000 shredded United States dollar bills to a “painting” constructed of newspaper and hemp, a surprising variety of art crafted out of paper is showcased in Pulp Function, on view in the Fred Beans Gallery at the James A. Michener Art Museum from March 28 through June 28, 2009. Organized by the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, and curated by Lloyd Herman, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery (the national craft museum), this exhibition includes more than 50 works demonstrating innovative uses of handmade paper pulp, recycled paper, paper cuts, cardboard, papier-mâché and folded paper, among even more envelope-pushing paper products.

Pulp Function is sponsored by Judith and Bud Newman, with additional support from Silverman Family Partnerships and The Doylestown Bookshop.

“The three-dimensional objects in this exhibit range from jewelry and clothing, furniture and lighting to vessels and purely whimsical sculptural pieces—and everything imaginable in between!” exclaims Erika Jaeger-Smith, the Museum’s Associate Curator of Exhibitions. “For decades, artists have manipulated paper products as a means of creative expression. Contemporary artists continue to expand the possibilities of this humble yet endlessly malleable material even further. Yet others use found paper products to create art.”

According to Herman, a world-renowned scholar recognized as a “craft guru” by American Craft Magazine, “New materials such as paper clay and precious metal clay have entered the art vocabulary, fusing traditional materials with new technology. But it is also one of the world’s most familiar, and expendable materials—paper—that will continue to inspire artists and designers to imagine, and create new art.”

Pulp Function celebrates the work of emerging and established artists from across America. Themes such as commodity, domesticity and decoration are explored in objects that blur the line between art, craft and design. Mia Hall’s Domestic Expectations—The Mother (2005) employs disposable diapers to replicate a Chanel-look suit that reveals a compartment for baby powder, a pacifier and baby wipes. Edwin Jager’s Book Implosion swirls the pages of a Webster’s Elementary School Dictionary into a conga drum-shaped sculpture, while Jacqueline Mallegni’s Wind through the Mountain (2005) appears poised for flight, with a parachute of handmade kozo paper hovering above a “mountain” of alabaster.

An accompanying catalogue entitled Pulp Function is available for $14.00 in the Museum Shop ($12.60 for Museum members). Published by Fuller Craft Museum, this soft cover publication consists of 25 pages, 32 color images, an exhibition checklist and an essay by Lloyd Herman.

The Museum hosts a variety of programs in conjunction with this exhibition. Each of the following individual programs cost $12.00 per person ($8.00 for Museum members) and include general Museum admission. Advance registration by calling (215) 340-9800 is required.

* On Tuesday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m., Erika Jaeger-Smith, the Museum’s Associate Curator of Exhibitions, offers a Gallery Talk in the Fred Beans Gallery.
* On Tuesday, May 5 at 1:00 p.m., Bucks County papermaker and collage artist Joan Kopchik presents an illustrated lecture about her mixed media wall constructions. In addition to sharing examples of her work—including handmade paper and fibers, Kopchik provides a demonstration on the art of making sheet paper.
* On Tuesday, June 2 at 1:00 p.m., Professor Caren Friedman of Bucks County Community College highlights the work of Philadelphia-area paper artists. This illustrated lecture features historical and contemporary approaches to papermaking as well as a demonstration of Western and Asian papermaking methods.

During the community-wide “First Friday” celebration on Friday, May 1, the Museum hosts a guided gallery tour of Pulp Function at 7:00 p.m. (free with Museum admission) and invites young people to participate in a free, paper-themed art activity.

A special teacher workshop series entitled “Inspirations from Paper,” beginning April 26, explores various techniques in creating works from paper, such as weaving, casting, molding and using recycled materials. Interested K-12 educators should contact Adrienne Romano at (215) 340-9800 x 111 for more information. Additionally, “Book Arts: Windows into Cultures” is offered in partnership with the University of the Arts beginning April 22. More information is available by calling (215) 717-6092.

Annual support for the Michener Art Museum is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bucks County Commissioners and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Michener Art Museum