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The end of last year I learned the Saul Alexander Gallery at the Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun Street accepted my exhibition proposal for “Making Community: Street Pulp Artists’ Books.” The exhibition opened Thursday, April 2, 2015 and continues through Wednesday, April 29, 2015. As I finished installing the work I felt a strong sense of celebration and gratitude for this opportunity to share the results – from surveys and in the form of Artists’ Books, with the public.

Participants pulling sheets at the Dart Library. Photo from Leize Gaillard

Participants pulling sheets at the Dart Library. Photo from Leize Gaillard

James Simons Elementary Principal Quenetta White pulls a sheet. Photo from Heschel Falek

James Simons Elementary Principal Quenetta White pulls a sheet. Photo from Heschel Falek

Erin Sutherland paints her fresh sheet at DwellSmart.

Erin Sutherland paints her fresh sheet at DwellSmart.

The Street Pulp project was a community art making opportunity for the people of Charleston. In September and October of 2014, assisted by volunteers from the community, I presented four individual Street Pulp events, each at a different location in the upper peninsula area of Charleston. Two of the events were open to the public and two were private and held at schools. Working outside, in parking lots and playgrounds, participants make sheets of fresh paper containing recycled materials from schools and businesses and decorating it with pigmented pulp in images reflecting their community.

Partners in Street Pulp were involved because of their geographic location in the upper peninsula area of Charleston, involvement in the community, access to potential participants, and underserved audiences. These partners included the John L. Dart Library, 1067 King Street; DwellSmart, 804 Meeting Street; James Simons Elementary School, 741 King Street, and the Charleston Development Academy, 233 Line Street.

The project and exhibition explore the idea of creative placemaking in the upper Peninsula. The transformative process from fiber to pulp to paper and then to the object of artists’ book is an apt analogy for creative placemaking. Fiber does not change its nature, only its form, just as creative placemaking will change the form, but not the nature of the upper peninsula.

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The three artists’ books in the exhibition are comprised of the handmade sheets pulled by the participants during the Street Pulp events. I selected the accordion book structure for the books that include individual sheets made by makers and the artist. I chose this book structure because it evokes the connectivity of community. Similar to each member of the community, each sheet is individual and connected to another in a variety of ways – in the book and in the flesh.

Installed on the walls of the gallery are nine informational panels explaining the Street Pulp project, the process of hand papermaking, and photographs from community papermaking events that included 148 community participants yielding over 150 sheets of paper. After the exhibition, I will give the artists’ books to each of the four participants and one to Enough Pie.

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ENCORE + RECEPTION

An encore presentation of Street Pulp will be held in the Enough Pie booth at Charleston Farmer’s Market on Saturday April 11 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market is located at 329 Meeting Street in Marion Square. Community members are invited to come to booth, pull a sheet of paper, and decorate it to reflect their community. I am there as long as the pulp lasts!

After the Farmer’s Market, on Saturday, April 11m you are invited to a reception to celebrate the exhibition in Conference Room B at the Charleston County Public Library (Main Library), from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. I will answer your questions, tell you about the project, and serve some pie and other refreshments. Give me your feedback, too!

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This will be the only planned public viewing of three of the five artists’ books from the Street Pulp project. To see the books after the exhibition closes, you may contact the partners directly.

The Street Pulp project was partially funded by Enough Pie and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receive support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

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