In 2010, artist Rose Camastro-Pritchett spent a semester in China, introducing art students at a college in JiuJiang to a very unfamiliar idea: conceptual art.
Improvising materials and equipment, she set up a papermaking studio on the verandah of her apartment, and was soon showing her students how to make paper pulp, and then turn that into artist’s books and other paper-based art. The students were all competent in painting, but the idea of, well, starting with just an idea, or a memory, and then letting that dictate the form was something entirely alien to them.
In an exhibition that just closed at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago, Camastro-Pritchett exhibited some of the student work that she was able to bring back to the United States when the residency was over. Called “Tell Me a Story,” the show displayed a nice variety of pieces: dresses made from paper, the hems torn into strips on which were written a student’s personal memories:
Accordion books cut into the shape of the Chinese dragons, with bright colours to match:
Books with contrasting materials such as razor blades sewn in to the pages:
And my favourite, a piece called “Growth” that consisted of molds taken from rice bowls, filled with rice, and nestled in the rice an eggshell containing a little soil and a garlic plant. Apparently the region to which JiuJiang belongs is renowned for its garlic, which is grown and then sold on the streets in gigantic mountains of garlic (Rose Camastro-Pritchett is pictured standing next to "Growth"):