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© 2023 by Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire.

2019 white mountain national forest 

ArtisT in residencE May Babcock

Plant Harvesting Walk August 17

Pop-UP Papermill August 31

May Babcock, a papermaker and multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, will be on the White Mountain National Forest as this year's 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 will draw the landscape, photograph, and learn about the area’s plant ecologies, hydrologies, and geological history. “I plan on safely removing non-native plant species and processing them into handmade paper pulp paintings,” she says. “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 be 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.

 

Marianne Leberman of the WMNF remarks, “Identifying and learning about non-native species in the Forest and turning those plants into paper by hand alongside an expert artist is really a new, interesting way for the public to engage with the Forest and we’re excited that May’s residency will link the ecology and artistry of the Forest.” Babcock’s residency also ties in to the history of papermaking in the region. “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 will provide rich opportunities for discussion and local connections,” adds Arts Alliance Executive Director, Kate Griffin.

Learn more about May Babcock and her work here

The White mountain national forest Artist in Residence program

 

The WMNF and the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire have collaborated on the Artist in Residence program since 2011, along with Friends of Mead base. The program was created as part of the Weeks Act Centennial celebration, marking the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Weeks Act – an important milestone in American conservation history. 

 

The AIR program offers professional and emerging artists in all disciplines – visual and performing artists, craftspeople, writers, composers, eco, media, and social practice artists – an opportunity to pursue their particular art form while being inspired by the Forest and sharing their work and their artistic process with members of the public. 

 

The AIR program has now become a part of the Forest fabric, providing artists a unique opportunity to interact with and learn from both Forest Service professionals and community members and visitors to the Forest. The residency program seeks to use the arts and creative expression to explore the many ways in which people relate to forests in general and to the WMNF in particular, capturing the beauty and spirit of the WMNF through the creation of high-quality art, providing learning opportunities for WMNF visitors, using the arts; helping citizens explore the connections between public lands, our use of natural resources and our emotional ties to beauty, nature and self-expression, thus serving as a link between the utilitarian and aesthetic values of the forest; and celebrating the power of the arts — and artists — to explore and interpret the forest environment and forest-related issues.