I recently travelled across the Atlantic to London, UK, for a visit with my brilliant brother, Elliott. As London is arguably the art world’s current capital, I made a point of visiting as many galleries as I could. What inspiring exhibitions are on show this month! The Tate Modern is host to a phenomenal retrospective of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama‘s art work and the Victoria & Albert Museum offers a surprising look into the evolution in the 1950s and 1960s of the British Adventure Comic. I’ve loved comic books for as long as I’ve been enamored with the paper from which they are made, so I can only imagine the other paper and paper-ephemera lovers who gormandized the exhibit!
With paper art daydreams in my head, I popped into one of London’s east end attractions, Whitechapel Gallery. To my pleasant surprise, their annual Writers in Residence exhibit was being shown and really resonates with the spirit we try to conjure at The Paper Place. The theme of the show? DO OR DIY!
The show’s premise is a wonderful platform for any writer, artist, or crafter who wants some inspiration. If Martin Luther self-published his ninety-five these as a site-specific installation in 1517, there is no reason why you can’t create an art project of your own for either private or public viewing! Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Marcel Duchamp were all self-starters who went down in history for the risks they took!
Anecdotes found on the walls of DO OR DIY reminded me that our current DIY aesthetic has really special roots. For example:
Fact-Walt Whitman financed the first print run of Leaves of Grass before helping to set the type and pull the pages from the press at a local shop himself.
Fact-More than one thousand of Emily Dickinson’s poems are self-published in handmade booklets which have since been privately archived.
Fact-Many of today’s most beloved artists and art-makers have no formal training and did not wait for permission to make, published, show, or try.
So, if I took anything away from this exhibit’s wall-mounted anecdotes and glass vitrines full of paper artefacts, it is that today’s print-makers, letterpress lovers, crafters, and paper enthusiasts have no reason NOT to take one of the world’s most accessible resources and turn it into something magnificent. Paper is as innovative as you are. The last line of the show’s catalogue says it best: “Don’t wait for others to validate your ideas. Do it yourself.”