Blog

A Conversation with Lisa Goddard July 13 2023

Enjoy our conversation with artist Lisa (Elizabeth) Goddard, as she describes her reckoning through creating.

PC: How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?

LG: I am a printmaker, painter, and in recent years a quilt-maker. My main printmaking processes are woodcut, etching, and monotype. Through Paper Connection, I was introduced to the Korean paper-felting technique, joomchi, which was a perfect fit for a recent exhibition for the Mark Twain House & Museum of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England from March 2022-January 2023.

PC: Are you willing to share insights into your process and current projects?

LG: I admit to being a Yankee, so I hate to waste anything! I began to create paper quilts in order to reuse or recycle parts of woodcut prints that were beautiful, although they had defects that would prohibit them from being part of an edition of prints. By cutting these prints into pattern sections, I have been able to develop a new format for my art.
Using Joomchi
Uncomfortable Quilt
As it turns out, the choice of quilt patterns, and the stitches I have used, strengthen the meaning of the imagery. A perfect example is my quilt for the Mark Twain exhibit called “Uncomfortable Quilt”. I selected the log cabin pattern to be in keeping with the time of Huckleberry Finn, one of my central characters in the quilt. Huck wrestled with the dilemma of whether to turn Jim in as a runaway slave, something his upbringing in a small Missouri town mandated, or to help Jim to freedom as he recognized Jim’s humanity. I felt that Huck’s awakening matched my own as I faced the violence so many African American citizens face at the hands of police. The other individuals represented in my quilt are George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown, who all were brutally killed by police. As I was stitching the quilt, I realized that the stitches used were consistent with the themes of slavery and freedom as well as our contemporary issue of unjust use of force and the death of African Americans. Serendipity - or subconscious thought - must have guided me to choose the running stitch, the chain stitch, and the whip stitch, which are pretty typical embroidery stitches.
Uncomfortable Quilt
Whip Stitch Detail
When I was halfway through sewing the quilt together, I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!

PC: Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work?

LG: I have always felt compelled to share my human story and to listen and absorb the stories of others. I believe that the arts make us more human. The arts create empathy and understanding among people all over the world, including from past to present lives. I create with the hope that my stories will resonate with people today and in the future.

PC: What influences inspire you and why?

LG: Life in all its beauty inspires me. I feel part of a vast existence of which I am a minuscule part. This helps me to appreciate my insignificance and to feel immense gratitude for the life I have. I hope to inspire my viewers to feel reverence for our world and our shared existence and to pass it forward.

"I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!"

PC: How did your creative journey bring you to this place?

LG: As part of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England, I enjoy the group projects we do. Having been a museum director until 2015, I knew the executive director of the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. I proposed a project idea to the printmakers and then took it with their blessing to the museum. The result was the exhibit called “The Evocative Mark Twain Inspires the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England.” The printmakers each chose an authentic quote(s) by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and created their own art to reflect their response to the quote. My quote from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reflected his struggle with slavery which paralleled my own struggle with the police killings of African American citizens.
Text for Unforgettable Quilt
For my own piece, I wrote the following wall text:
George Floyd
“After George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis in 2020, I experienced an awakening not unlike Huck’s in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was listening to former RNC chairman Michael Steele as he described “The Conversation” that Black parents have with their children about what to do and say when confronted by the police. Startled, I realized that I had never had this talk with my parents. I had not had this talk with my children. Being white, no one needed to warn me about the danger of being stopped by police. After all, they were good, weren’t they? Maybe not so much… So began my journey as an artist, producing etchings of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. Ultimately, producing etchings from these drawings caused me to feel their humanity deeply and to mourn them.”

PC: Do you ever feel stagnant? If so, how do you break through?

LG: Of course, I have moments of stagnation. Sometimes I find cleaning up my flat files and studio space helps to jump-start me. Sometimes I am renewed by challenging myself to do 100 abstract monotypes, as I did when I retired from my position as Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum. Sometimes, it is just doing some work that is terrible and just pushing through with elbow grease that unlocks my creativity.

PC: Can you describe the importance of paper (or other mediums) in your work, what type of paper (medium) do you use most, and why?

LG: Paper comes from trees. So does the wood I use for woodcuts. There is a connection I feel with the natural world, particularly with trees, so I like to think there is a divine presence guiding me in working with paper. I do love the feel and the tones of Hahnemühle Copperplate. I also love natural papers such as Lotka from Nepal. I often draw in sketchbooks made of this paper. For the quilt, I used Hanji-(Korean) mulberry paper and Taja white cotton rag.

PC: Why this medium? Can you elaborate/reflect on your work and future forecasting?

LG: I studied printmaking when I was in college, but I was frustrated because the process took so long. I wanted the immediacy of painting. Then in my forties, I returned to printmaking and it was the complexity of the process and the mental dexterity needed to create multi-plate woodcuts and photopolymer etchings that kept me engaged and stimulated ever since. Sometimes life comes full circle.

PC: Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality?

LG: When I visited Lauren at the Paper Connection in Providence, RI to purchase paper for the quilt, she introduced me to the luscious Korean felting paper called Hanji as well as to the technique of felting itself. This inspired me to try felting. It “felt” right to use in my quilt project. I was able to select shades of red and blue that had equal values as I created the log cabin pattern of dark to light squares. (red for blood and blue for police)

PC: Are there questions no one has asked concerning your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share?

LG: What would life be like if you stopped making art? Would you move to another medium of expression?

PC: Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress? If so, please provide info so we can direct our readers.

LG: I am included in a new exhibit of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Barnstable, MA. It runs from April 19-June 18, 2023.

PC: Thank you Lisa! especially for your candid description of your emotional and physical reactions while making the "Uncomfortable Quilt", made from paper.

It has been wonderful to learn about you and your work via your "conversations" with historical figures and influences.

To check out more about Lisa and her artwork, plus her current and past exhibit information, click on the link below. ElizabethGoddardPrintmaker.com

Caleb Getto at Hope Bindery June 26 2023

Hope Bindery was established in 1988 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island after owner Jim DiMarcantonio graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. Traditional, hand binderies like Hope Bindery are the ultimate paper problem-solvers of often unique constructions that are in need of repair or a new "home". In Jim's words "no-nonsense solutions to binding problems while still exhibiting a sense of care and pride." Let's meet Caleb Getto - they are the key staff and manager of Hope Bindery. PC: Caleb, thanks for joining us. Talk about your background and how you came to Hope Bindery. CG: I graduated from RISD with a BFA in printmaking. During the last three years at RISD, I was a work-study student at the RISD Museum Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department as a matting and framing assistant for works on paper. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to continue working in this capacity part-time when I graduated. I also started working at Hope Bindery. Within a year, I committed myself to Hope Bindery full-time. While I loved the museum and colleagues, the Bindery offered an outlet to work with my hands that wasn’t limited to protecting existing artwork, but helping bring new work to life. PC: What were your first impressions of Hope Bindery?
CG: Hope Bindery is such a special place, and that is very evident from the moment you step through the doors. At any given time there is a huge variety of projects moving through the studio, from huge Piranesi volumes to artists' books and clamshell boxes for printmakers and photographers. Walk two doors down the hall and you’re in our typecasting studio. Three Ludlow typography machines line the left-hand wall and the rest of the room is brimming with type cases full of brass matrices. Simply put, when I first arrived, I felt like there were few limits to what was possible in the space in terms of bookbinding. But, I also saw the opportunity for growth and expansion in seemingly infinite directions. PC: What are the first steps when a new project comes into the Bindery? CG: We have a principle at the Bindery; we try not to say no to any projects without exhausting all options we can think of for making our customer’s vision become a reality. Even if we don’t know exactly how we will do something, we can figure out a way. Projects always start with absorbing our customer’s ideas, once we understand what they are envisioning we can start figuring out logistics.

PC: When you start on a new personal creation – what’s your process? CG: I don’t have a consistent way or method for making - as my work takes many different forms. The one thing I always come back to is writing. Writing is really what grounds my work and what helps me understand my visual expression. Most of my writing takes place on a typewriter. I find the physicality of words that come out of a typewriter very confrontational, more so than the handwritten word. When I write something on a typewriter I am forced to exist with these words in a much more interpersonal manner. PC: What gives you satisfaction in your studio work and with Bindery projects/jobs? CG: In making my personal work, I gain satisfaction from being in the middle of something, whatever that may mean at a given time, and why I have different projects going at once. My favorite part of reading books - is being in the middle. There is a physical and contextual balance of what you know - and what is still to come. At the Bindery, we work on many small, often simple repairs that hold little monetary significance, but are charged with overwhelming sentimental value. Often these are books that have been passed down from loved ones or kept from childhood. I feel much more pressure with these books than with something that may be more expensive. While it is great making a set of beautiful clamshell boxes or an edition of artist books, getting to revive a piece that holds so much weight in people’s lives brings me much joy. PC: Has the Bindery enhanced your portfolio of work and what has changed in you and your work since coming to the Bindery? CG: Bookbinding and box-making have always been part of my practice, so, obviously, I have learned and refined skills in these technical areas. More than technical skills, however, the Bindery satisfies my craving for physical making. With this craving satiated, I have been able to slow down. Allowing time for projects to grow and evolve, through activity but also dormancy, without this overwhelming desire to consistently bring something into the world. PC: Have you worked on an "eye-opening" binding job? Please tell us the story of a memorable client and/or client request. CG: This was back when I worked at the Bindery and the RISD Museum. We were making a box set for Jess T. Dugan’s project - Every Breath We Drew. This was memorable for several reasons. First off, this was for an artist with a beautiful body of work I admired and one of the first box projects I felt fully involved in. The boxes turned out great. Weeks later, I walked into the (RISD) Museum's storage area, to find the very same boxes filled with Jess’s photographs. While I could talk about projects that were particularly interesting technically, this was an instance of "right place, right time". Seeing the impact of my work at the bindery so directly and immediately brought me so much joy and such a sense of satisfaction. PC: Is there a specific area of interest within the capabilities of the Bindery? CG: From a physical standpoint I enjoy the process of box-making most. There is something very satisfying about the collaboration that exists between a box and the prints, photographs, etc. that it holds. Boxes are protectors and collaborators in storytelling at their best. Book cover design is much the same. I love working with customers to translate the narrative or mood of their work into a cover design that compliments and reinforces the interior material. PC: How do you imagine the future of Hope Bindery? CG: I love the work that we already do, that’s why I grew to care for the bindery so much. But, as I said before, one of the things that I love about the place is that there are seemingly infinite ways in which it could expand, grow, and evolve. In the long run, the one idea that sticks in my mind is creating an artist book residency program. I love working with artists on book projects and it would be wonderful to be able to give artists the time and space to explore the book format. To make this into a reality it would be ideal to be able to expand with printmaking facilities for the artists to utilize. It would also mean expanding into publishing to some degree which is also something that is very intriguing. PC: Name one or more influences in your life. There are lots of influences in my life that I could speak about, but I think the most relevant is someone from my childhood named John Nichols. Along with many other things, he is the owner of a skate shop that expanded into a record store where I grew up in Massachusetts, Technical Skateshop & Inclusion Records. He taught me how to skateboard, and although that phase in my life didn't last long, his impact on me seems to linger. He was one of the first people that was able to illustrate to me that I was not bound to certain conventions of being. I could be a unique person with however many different interests, no matter how disparate or conflicting they may seem. He was the first person in my life that was able to offer a means of dismantling the conventions and binaries that existed in my small town and for that, I am very grateful. He is also one of the few prominent people in my life who have owned small businesses. When I first started at the Bindery, I found I had a strong desire to work in a small business that I didn't know existed beforehand. I feel like the example of John must have played a role in that. PC: Thank you, Caleb! We really appreciate you taking the time to think introspectively and write about your approach to your artwork and work at the Bindery. We look forward to taking some of your future local workshops and learning about binding and box making.

An Inside Look at Paint & Calligraphy Papers April 25 2021

Character Appeal

Xuan - Super soft, absorbing ink consistently and evenly Pronounced "shwen," this paper provides a pristine surface for writing and painting. Handmade in historic, Anhui Province, China, Xuan has stood the test of time as the ink of ancient scrolls and paintings still retaining its vibrancy to this day. For all levels, this is a quality paper for practice and finished work and very affordable. Mini Xuan paper is a charming handmade paper for writing or incorporating mixed media. Made from recycled materials, including bamboo waste paper, here is a great paper for beginners. Economical and made to support hand/eye development for more solid practices. For all levels, this paper works widely for practice and finished work. Papers great for Asian-style calligraphy (shodō), sumi painting, and fish printing (gyotaku) A lovely assortment includes Kihosen Kana, handmade in Japan with a mix of mitsumata, bamboo, and kōzo fibers. This professional-grade sumi painting or calligraphy paper comes folded and may require a warm iron or just leave rolled for a few days. Currently we sell scroll-sized Kana paper in 10-sheet sets. Soonji made from white Korean mulberry paper (hanji) is also an excellent choice. There is no sizing which makes it absorbent and ideal for calligraphy, Sumi-e, and brush painting amongst other uses. Sunn is a very traditional paper developed in the 8th century for writing religious script and Persian miniature paintings. It is made from raw fermented and cooked hemp and then burnished by hand. The surface is coated with wheat starch, a sizing of egg-white, and alum, burnished with agate to provide a naturally sized surface with an incredible sheen. Yin Yang Dochim Hanji is a beautiful, heavyweight, and burnished mulberry paper. Fibers are compacted and "small-pored," making them great for applying ink with no bleeding. Rustic lokta papers from Nepal are not technically burnished but lokta fiber once made into a sheet is naturally small-pored. Japanese kōzo papers with a bit of internal sizing (sizing added to the vat before formation) are suitable for beginners to experts. If you are unsure what type of kōzo to use, start here for its versatility and price.
Rick Lowe brush painting on lokta paper.
Take a step toward further experimentation! These depicted here are some marvelous papers to explore.
Rona Conti wielding her calligraphy brush.

Sizing - Alum can be a key constituent of your work. When the paper is called "sized" there is usually alum involved. Traditional sizing or size is made with a recipe of animal skin glue and alum to create a barrier in or on the paper so ink does not absorb into the fibers. (Here's a vegan version to DIY sizing). Sized papers are less absorbent and more forgiving of water-based techniques, lending themselves to multiple paint and ink washes/modifications. In other words, sized papers "hold up" against liquids and pigments. Without sizing, paper can be highly absorbent and valued for depth and vividness, allowing painters and calligraphers further complexity to their imagery and characters. Professional brush painters look for the rate of ink absorption. Plus they look for a well-formed sheet which will have an even ink bleed no matter where you place your wet brush. Many of the pros use paper without sizing. Burnished, pressed, or "calendered" paper surfaces will often be sufficient to slow or stop paint from unwanted bleeding. You can bet that most papers from Asia are not sized. fricka-artist/writer/editor our papers help tell your story • want more?

Artist of the Month: Toby Sisson – Taking a Leap of Faith August 04 2020

Toby describes her work as “drawing lines in wet sand with a long stick.” One might add thoughtful ambiguity operating on multi-tiered levels. Toby Sisson’s art includes paper, lettering, and encaustic monotype that tells stories of both psychology and social conscience – a hand-graphic core, deeply harnessing the humanness of us, we, and them. Toby did not always see herself as an artist but after thirty years bartending she took a leap. Toby walked that fine line between trust, self-preservation and excitement at the possibilities, enrolling and earning her degree at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota with a focus on drawing, painting, public art and teaching. Toby Sisson (above) Toby using some of Paper Connection International's kozo fine art papers; image courtesy of Toby Sisson.

Check out Toby's website and don't miss the gallery page showing “. . . breadth of metaphoric meaning that can be derived from non-objective abstraction.” It’s vast, deep, thought-provoking, and for me, totally inspiring. Listen to the artist’s speak on her “Evolving Perspective,” the work and relationships with curators/gallerists that give voice and life to her pieces. This video was done in conjunction with Worcester Art Museum’s Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative and a true treat.

If you want to find Toby, she teaches Beginning and Advanced Drawing and Painting, Studio Topics and Senior Thesis seminars at Clark University. Hear her speak, along with John Aylward, Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory, on "Why Make Art in an Unjust World? " Toby’s work is in numerous public and private collections including Brown University in Providence, RI and the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA. Toby Sisson resides and designs from her studio in Providence, RI. fricka a.i.r. - our papers help tell your story

Play Versus Purpose with A.I.R. Lisa Perez March 13 2019

Play Versus Purpose #playwithpaperconnection

The theme for my belated first contribution as Artist in Residence here at Paper Connection, evolved naturally out of a struggle that we all find ourselves up against at times in our creative practice.
creativity, play, paper artist, washi, paper connection international Some explorations + tests to get to know new papers - photo: Lisa Perez
The list of what we think must get accomplished, or should happen a particular way oppresses us with expectation... Coupled with self-editing before something even begins, we derail our process. I know I should take my own advice to my students when they are feeling stuck: PLAY – Jump in and explore materials and processes without judgement or expectation. It’s simple and direct, present moment action that fosters creativity. With that in mind, I also believe that we are always more successful when we are resourceful, respecting our plentiful resources - meaning use what’s on hand, and find ways to avoid waste in the processes we love. It is this exploration that becomes the rich and fertile practice that we all can appreciate.
Play is productive.....
One word...PLAY. So, get into the studio, play with what’s on hand, and show us what happens - tag it on instagram: #playwithpaperconnection. We’ll be sending out some free assorted paper sampler packs to selected artists that inspire us with their works on and of paper! I’m thrilled to be the first artist-in-residence at Paper Connection! Paper explorations shown in these photos were created with some of the “drop” (left over from paper cut for collections and samples) or some of our smaller pre-cut sample papers: from color kozo collage (color studies in homage to Josef Albers), cyanotype photogram experiments on kozo paper, like joomchi with hanji, to digital printing on Indian handmade paper. The diversity of color, weight and texture of a paper from all over the world offers endless points of inspiration for any creative practice - from simple graphite drawing on kozo paper, chine collé on gampi paper, collage with lokta paper, to origata/origami with yuzen paper! I’m grateful for already learning so much here at the Paper Connection and looking forward to sharing more of my creative explorations using these specialty papers…. Next post will be a year-long AIR recap as well as some words about an awesome Kozo Collage class I taught with Paper Connection… -Lisa Perez, Artist in Residence