It was about a year ago I met Enough Pie at the Charleston Regional Arts Alliance OPEN Arts Expo. Under the oaks in the College of Charleston Cistern Yard it still felt like summer, even though it was September. Claire and Chris were helping people, mostly children, throw paint filled balloons at a large standing canvas. They were making community art.

Shortly after I moved to Charleston, I began following Enough Pie on Facebook, signed up for their newsletter, and put them on my “want to get to know you list.” The organization had just started and hosted the first Awakening shortly before I arrived; it was so exciting to be moving to a community that cared about creative placemaking and actually used the word. My interest in place began in the mid to late 1990s when I read “Lure of the Local” by Lucy Lippard, a book about place, memory, and from an art critic’s perspective about where artists work with both in a multi-centered society. Enough Pie’s intent to engage with creative placemaking and guerrilla art appealed to me intellectually and creatively.

Claire, Enough Pie’s Communications Director, gave me the head’s up about a grant making opportunity they were about to release and my wheels began to turn. My degree is in Anthropology and I am an artist making handmade paper, artists’ books, writing poetry, calligraphy, and letterpress – anything paper and graphic. Anthropology is my umbrella of understanding, the eyes through which I view the world. It seemed there was culture and change to understand more deeply and new ways to make art in a collaborative way. Bring it on.

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Like most people, when I connect with something strongly, ideas form quickly, arriving in my mind in a complete state. It was as if I asked the question, “How could papermaking and the upper peninsula go together?” and “boom” put my palm out to catch the idea. This is what fell in: I would take pulp to the streets, include clothing and paper collected from the community, pulped as inclusions in the vat, and show those living and working here how to make handmade paper. Once the paper was dry, I would make an artists’ book, stitching, crocheting, and gluing the sheets of community made paper together. The book would be twelve feet long or longer to represent as many makers as possible. It would stay in the community.

Making paper from fiber or plant material is a transformative process. The molecular structure is changed, but its essence remains the same. For example, the plant is called abaca when it looks like a banana plant, a bale of partially processed sheets, pup in the vat (or on the street), or a dried sheet of paper. It may look different, but its essence and name is still abaca. The same applies to a child growing to adulthood and to a community going through a renaissance or destruction. So, things can change, but their essence remains the same – the thing is, we really don’t know what the true essence of things is most of the time.

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In the Street Pulp events, we, as a community of Charleston dwellers, could come together, purposely transform something, with everyone working individually and collectively, involved with a part of the process, adding their color and texture, and then recognize what we had created with our hands and hearts. It excited me and it excited Enough Pie because they decided to fund the project and allow me to implement it as I envisioned it, with enough funds to pay for the materials and some of my time, a great support to working artists.

Claire and Chris delivered the good news in March 2014. Now it was up to me, with their help, to connect with the “community” and find out who was game to make Street Pulp, get their hands wet, and participate in art and community. Over the next few months I’ll be posting about Street Pulp events. I hope you will follow along and see who does get their hands wet. Maybe it will be you.

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