USM Art Galleries Gorham and Portland

Pulped Under Pressure

September 8 – December 10, 2022

USM Art Gallery and Glickman Library, 7th Floor Great Reading Room 

An image of seven artworks in a 3x3 grid with an outlier on the bottom left. On the bottom right it reads "Pulped Under Pressure."

PULPED UNDER PRESSURE 

With traditional hand papermaking at its core, PULPED UNDER PRESSURE underscores important contemporary issues steeped in history and craft. Enticed through touch, these works encourage a contemplative slowing down even as they urge acknowledgment of some of the most pressing issues (environmental crisis to global marginalization) facing civilization today. Each of the artists, Jillian Bruschera, Julia Goodman, Reni Gower, Trisha Oralie Martin, Melissa Potter, Marilyn Propp, and Maggie Puckett, starts simply with a foundation of pulp made from natural fibers. Their multifaceted results incorporate a rich range of printmaking, letterpress, papercutting, and installation with a diversity of recycled disposable materials (junk mail, egg cartons, old cotton t-shirts, ripped denim jeans) as well as old bedsheets, beetroot, heirloom plants, and illuminated el wires. In very unique ways, these artists consider paper beyond its most common function as a passive surface of record or craft. Instead, the material is transformed and embedded with content that turns communication into a public practice. By challenging assumptions, the artists of PULPED UNDER PRESSURE create artworks that are both beautiful and brave. 

 

A wall of bricks made out of paper in neutral colors

 

California native Jillian Bruschera is an interdisciplinary artist who recycles discarded materials. By combining bits of broken technology (tv remotes, cassette tape, and CDs) with waste paper and trash cardboard, the artist questions built-in obsolescence, overconsumption, and identity. 

 

Based in Berkeley, CA, independent artist Julia Goodman makes cast paper works from discarded bedsheets and papyrus pulped from beets. Loosely based on the history of rag paper, her biographical and biological approach produces works that are both fragile and strong. 

An image of a piece of paper with an intricate embossed monogram
An image of an intricate papercut overlaid a geometric painted ground

 

 

Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Emerita Reni Gower incorporates sacred geometry in her spray pulped paintings and papercuts to reveal universal cross-cultural connections. 

 

  

Inspired by her heritage, San Diego artist Trisha Oralie Martin includes native Filipino tattoo designs
and textile motifs in her highly patterned works. By archiving a practice that reflects a native people’s symbiotic relationship to the environment, the artist invites her audience to look, learn, and communicate despite differences. 

An image of collaged papers featuring patterns drawn in pencil
A natural paper ground with a geometric infinity symbol painted atop in white

 

 

Influenced by crafters, feminists, and Quaker activists, Columbia College Chicago Professor Melissa Potter considers the radical history of women through traditional handicrafts, gender rituals, and untold personal histories. 

 

 

 

  

Wisconsin artist and co-founder of Anchor Press, Paper & Print, Milwaukee, Marilyn Propp examines the coexistence and clash between the industrial and the natural worlds. By combining luminous color with the materiality of handmade paper and graphic images, the artist entangles marine life with industrial debris in provocative reflections on destruction. 

An image of a print of two turtles, printed in black ink, swimming, atop a blue and green watercolor ground

 An image of a book made of cut paper, closed. A collage of colored paper shows a tree burning.

 

  

Based in Chicago, interdisciplinary artist Maggie Puckett uses the seductive tactility of handmade paper in concert with rich organic color to foretell the dire effects of climate change. By working collaboratively, her work triggers environmental awareness that imbues socially engaged local actions with the power to impact the global.