2019 white mountain national forest
ArtisT in residencE May Babcock
May Babcock, a papermaker and multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was on the White Mountain National Forest as the 2019 Artist in Residence from August 13 to September 3. In her work, Babcock explores contemporary landscapes – gathering sketches, plant fiber, and materials from specific sites and bringing them back to the studio to create prints, sculpture, installations, and artist books inspired by place. She combines hand papermaking, printmaking, sculpture, historical photography process, and book-arts techniques. During her residency on the White Mountain National Forest, Babcock sketched and photographed the landscape and learned about the area’s plant ecologies, hydrologies, and geological history. Coming into her residency, Babcock said, “I plan on safely removing non-native plant species and processing them into handmade paper pulp paintings. The artwork resulting from the residency will, I hope, communicate the complexity of this region.”
Babcock’s work has taken her to national parks, wilderness, and urban settings for arts and educational residencies using non-native plants to make paper and artworks that explore place. She has worked with Southside Community Land Trust, a system of urban community gardens in Providence, Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. “We’re delighted to have been able to bring May here to see how the ecology, hydrology, and geology of the White Mountain Forest are captured in papers made from Forest materials,” says Tom Wagner, Forest Supervisor for the WMNF.
“May’s knowledge about the history of papermaking, from its roots as a 2,000 year old handcraft to industrial papermaking and the emergence of papermaking as an artistic discipline in the 1970s provided rich opportunities for discussion and local connections to the history of papermaking in the region,” said Arts Alliance Executive Director, Kate Griffin. "May's plant harvesting of non-native species and her pop-up paper mill gave residents and visitors to the region a real chance to get their hands dirty and experience and learn about the process of making paper."
Learn more about May Babcock and her work here.