This project was created October-December 2018 for the Smith College class “Installation Art: Memory and Socially Engaged Art” with professor Lynne Yamamoto. It was created in collaboration with members of the Northampton ReUse Committee, who provided stories about reducing waste. I printed one hundred copies of this comic on reused paper. They were distributed in Northampton at Pulaski Park on Wednesday, December 12 to the first one hundred people to show up. Scroll past example images to read about my process!
Examples of the types of paper used (click image to enlarge):
- The project was inspired by my initial interest in sustainability and waste reduction, and story telling through comics
- Researched sustainability organizations in Northampton, MA and reached out to the Northampton ReUse Committee
- Attended a ReUse Committee meeting and proposed my idea (a collaborative storytelling project about sustainability) to the group, they were enthusiastic about forming a partnership
- Emailed the committee asking for stories
- Phone call with Peter who told me about his idea: “The Wonderful World of Re” (included in the print copy, and to be expanded on web version)
- Received emails from Mac and Roe with stories about the the Northampton ReCenter
- Began drafting comic
- Collected paper by: digging through recycling and trash cans on Smith campus; asking friends in person and on Facebook for their old scraps; posting on the Northampton FreeCycle Network, from which I received old paper from two strangers – paper that otherwise would’ve been thrown away
- Emailed intern Zoe at Zea Mays Printmaking (in Florence, MA) about sustainable inks and learned about a brand that would work
- Talked to professor Lindsey Clark-Ryan (Smith printmaking), about obtaining materials. She gave me leftover wood and ink from the woodcut printmaking class that I took last semester. The ink was not ideal for future use because it had a clumpy, sticky texture that was hard to work with. It was perfect for my project because I was able to use up something that would’ve otherwise been thrown away. Additionally, it was non-toxic and water soluble.
- Lindsey and I discussed the fact that creating a “sustainable” newspaper was too broad of a goal, and might be hard to fulfill. She helped me reframe my project to be about making art using only reused/secondhand/communal materials. I also decided that I would put a note in the paper that this project is open to discussion and critique about more sustainable art methods. It would be an experiment in creating art ethically and sustainability.
- Cut the recycled paper down to the size of the woodblock (special thanks to Emily Uss for helping with this part of the process).
- Exchanged ideas with Peter over the phone and meet in person with him and his friend Anna, an Oberlin graduate who is active in waste reduction. We discussed organizations I could join and ways to take this project further.
- Continued to meet with Lynne and the members of the installation class twice a week for work periods and discussion. I got feedback on my comic ideas, and we brainstormed creative ways the comic could be recycled when people were done with it.
- Transferred my design to photoshop and emailed it to the Installation class and the ReUse Committee for feedback. I implemented changes that were suggested.
- Laser engraved my design onto the woodblock in the Smith Design Thinking Studio with the help of Laura Lilienkamp (prototyping studio coordinator). We talked about the ethics of laser engraving. I learned that there is little conclusive information online about the damages of laser engravers on the environment, but that it is safer to engrave wood (because it is a natural material) than materials like acrylic (a type of plastic), because they releases toxic fumes into the environment.
- Engraved the design backwards so it would work like a stamp – when I rolled the ink onto the wood it would transfer backwards (the correct direction), onto the paper.
- My original intention was for the print to be black words and illustrations on a white background – like a regular newspaper. When I did my test print, I realized some of the words were too small to be picked up when printed, or would be crushed by the pressure from the printing press. I decided to reverse my design and print it white on black so that all the small details were inset and easier to print.
- To print all 100 copies (plus extras in case of misprints): I rolled ink onto my block, placed paper on the inked block, ran it through the press.
- Some of the prints were lighter than others due to how different types of paper absorbed the ink. Because some were less legible than other, I decided to post images of other editions of the paper on this website for reference.
- Let the paper dry for a two days
- Attended the ReUse Committee’s annual Toy Exchange Event. People could come collect as many as donated toys as they wanted, for free. This event gave me more story ideas, which I may write about in future work.
- Signed my prints, wrote the edition number at the top, wrote on the back where I collected each individual paper from, and made minor edits with a micron pen in places where small details of the prints didn’t show up. Some prints had sections that were clear and sections that were smudged, so I cut and pasted them with other damaged prints to create new, whole, legible prints.
- Invited the class and the ReUse Committee to the distribution. I headed to Pulaski Park in Northampton on December 12 at 3pm with all 100 copies. I distributed them to the first 100 people to show up. I used it as an opportunity to engage in conversation with people about sustainability and waste reduction in the context of art. Many people were receptive, and shared their own stories about waste reduction, or ideas they had about how Northampton could be more sustainable. I also gave them a small slip of paper with the link to this website so they could see extensions of the physical print, read about my process, and get my contact information for further discussion, suggestions, and critique.
- I created this website.
Feel free to leave feedback in the comments, or email me. I hope that this project is a way to begin discussion about sustainable art-making.