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Registry History

THE HISTORY OF HAND PAPERMAKING’S PAPER ARTIST REGISTRY

In 1988, two years after the first issue of Hand Papermaking magazine was published, co-founders Amanda Degener and Michael Durgin expanded their organization by setting up an archive of images relating to handmade paper. In the beginning, the goal of this new slide library was simple: to serve the magazine by providing a repository of imagery and related materials from artists using handmade paper in their work.

As the general public became more aware of paper art and interest in the magazine grew, so did demands on the archive. Educators and curators, for example, were requesting access to the slides for teaching purposes and exhibitions. Hand Papermaking had to figure out how to share the slides, and how to make the program pay for itself.

Because Amanda was the principal person working on the project, the archive was initially located in her hometown of Minneapolis at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Those wishing to view the slides could make a trip to the Twin Cities, but since this was often impractical, Amanda and Michael enlisted the help of board members Helen Frederick and Jane Farmer, and began work on the first juried set of slides. These 80 images, selected from the larger archive, were duplicated and placed in slide carousels for easy distribution. Amanda wrote a narrative to go along with the slides, and, with the help of her husband Bob (a sound engineer) created a cassette tape to accompany the slide carousels. Several copies of these "kits" were made in 1990 and remained available for rental throughout the next decade.

With experience gained from producing the first kit, and helpful feedback from renters, Amanda gathered an enthusiastic team of professionals and friends to create a second kit in 1992. Three jurors were enlisted--Nance O’Banion of California, Betty Bright of Minnesota, and Tom Grade of Wisconsin. This time 118 slides were excerpted from the ever-growing registry, including seven established artists who were invited by the jury. Amanda hosted a breakfast and invited friends to read for the cassette tape which Bob once again engineered. In addition to rental of slide carousels and tapes, a video was also produced and profitably marketed.

Due to the success of these two kits, images in Hand Papermaking’s registry were now being seen by a much larger audience. The kits became a popular method for teachers to introduce students to the world of handmade paper art. Curators, however, were still asking for specific slides, so duplicate slides were made and for a short time there were two complete copies of the entire slide registry. When this became impractical to manage, the duplicate copy was sold in 1998 to The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Amanda left the day-to-day operations of Hand Papermaking in 1993. In hopes of attracting more viewers, the registry was moved to Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts . Over the next ten years, generous volunteers there kept the repository in excellent condition and helped manage the constant addition of new artists.

In 2002, Hand Papermaking announced major improvements to its fourteen-year-old slide registry program. All new slides submitted would now be housed in Atlanta at the Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking. Owing to the prominence of its internationally known collection, the Museum is a prime destination for those interested in handmade paper as an art form. Museum staff cataloged the slides and associated materials, and assisted Hand Papermaking in the management of the registry. These new slides being solicited would now be referred to as Hand Papermaking’s Current Registry. Slides submitted between 1988 and April of 2002 became known as the Archive Registry. These older slides were shipped to the Museum as well. They are also accessible to the visiting public and will be fully catalogued by Museum staff as time permits.

A long anticipated, third juried set was excerpted from the Current Registry in October of 2003. Organized again by Amanda Degener, now serving on the board of Hand Papermaking, the slides arrived once more in Minneapolis where jurors Teri Williams, Karen Stahlecker, and Mina Takahashi selected 62 slides by 19 artists. These images are available as duplicate slide sets with printed statements, as a CD-ROM product, and as an online gallery at <www.handpapermaking.org>.

The first two juried sets of slides were promoted as representing the finest in late 20th-century handmade paper artwork. Hand Papermaking’s latest juried collection of images also showcases the cream of the crop, representing an amazing group of early 21st-century artists working in this marvelous medium of handmade paper. Hand Papermaking’s Artist Registry continues to serve the papermaking community as a means for artists to have their work available for critical review; for archivists and historians to see artworks from particular time periods; and for scholars, publicists, curators, educators and others to view current handmade paper art.