Jeannine Mullan: Space, Layers & Chance October 07 2020

Paper Connection caught up with Jeannine Mullan to chat about handmade paper and her process.

Experimentation and Extreme Curiosity

Jeannine Mullan - Blessed Residue of the Past "Blessed Residue of the Past" by Jeannine Mullan - Handmade Korean Hanji paper
“I use materials (salts, copper, pigments, etc.) that are fugitive, transitional, and reactive. They coalesce on paper and blur boundaries, allowing them to merge into each other and into the paper. My marks on paper are sometimes made with “things" and sometimes made with only my hands. It delights me that any word and no words can describe these non-objective images."

Q+A

PCI: Jeannine, I love what you are doing! Can you define your artwork, technique, process and/or paper application? JM: I know what I am doing when I'm doing it but when I need to explain it's something else! What I can say is handmade paper is the foundational material of my artwork. I use both alternative and digital printing processes to create an initial image. The next step involves adding and peeling away various organic materials (copper oxide, salt, bleach, earth pigments, etc.). Space, layers, and chance are primary in my process. Often the paper asserts itself and I respond. The final piece is a physical manifestation of my collaboration with the paper.
Jeannine Mullan "Exploration on Cardboard 2" "Exploration on Cardboard 2" by Jeannine Mullan - Corrugated cardboard
PCI: Can you share insights into your process and current studio projects? JM: I'm first and foremost, highly experimental and curious about how materials combine on paper. PCI: Talk about how your artwork brought you to this place.
Jeannine Mullan "Exploration on Cardboard 3" "Exploration on Cardboard 3" by Jeannine Mullan - Corrugated cardboard
Jeannine Mullan "My Brain Knows it is Spring, But My Heart is Overexposed" "My Brain Knows it is Spring, but My Heart is Overexposed" by Jeannine Mullan - Handmade Japanese Gampi paper
JM: I have always been attracted to paper but never thought about it much until I began experimenting and observing how it impacted my art. I have a collection of papers acquired over the years. While traveling I bought paper simply because of how it looked, felt, and spoke of its culture. I have subsequently delved more deeply into cultural voices and histories of the specific papers I favor. PCI: What people/art forms most influence you and in what way? JM: I am inspired equally by artists and “thinkers.” The Gutai Artists of post war Japan, especially Fujiko Shiraga, appeal to my sensibilities. Their valued process above product expresses an intersection of body, spirit, and matter. Dove Bradshaw is another favorite. She uses unpredictable organic materials and her acceptance of chance and change is something I admire. The tenants of Ikenobo influences my perception of art making. Ikenobo espouses the importance of nature as a place of reflection and not of domination. PCI: Describe the importance of paper and what types of medium you use most. JM: When I am aligned with paper and aligned with the cycles of nature, I fall into an easy mindset as co-creator, a practice of acceptance and respect. For example, in Japan the mulberry is harvested in the winter, bleached in the snow, and washed in cold, fresh water. There is a science to this which came from ancient, astute observations of and in nature. PCI: Why cyanotypes as opposed to other photo processes or printmaking techniques? Can you elaborate/reflect within your work and beyond?
Cyanotype by Jeannine Mullan Cyanotype by Jeannine Mullan - Handmade Korean Hanji paper
JM: Cyanotype is a printing process where light sensitive chemicals are painted on paper and subsequently exposed to the sun, creating reverse shadows of objects placed on the paper. The blues created by this process evoke an aery blue sky and deep blue ocean. Physical light and water are essential parts of this process. PCI: How does Paper Connection play into your art?
"As I Breath, I Can Change" by Jeannine Mullan "As I Breath, I Can Change" by Jeannine Mullan - Vellum
JM: First off, I love all of the papers I have purchased from Paper Connection International. Lately I am working with imperial size Korean Hanji (paper). This paper is strong, renders deep rich blues, crinkles and presses beautifully, holds up to my constant alterations, and flutters in the wind. It has a transparency that lets light travel through it and it soaks up color creating unexpected and delightful images on the back of the paper. PCI: One last question before you go, if you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? JM: God!

All images courtesy of Jeannine Mullan

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