Seeds InService (SIS) collaborators Melissa Potter and Maggie Puckett use the haptic processes of bookmaking as spaces for alternative distribution, consciousness-raising, and public protest. These tactics are evident in the history of artists’ books, which range from Soviet sazmidat, a form of hand-copied banned books, to Riot Grrrl zines created for public readings and installations.
For the 2017 Women’s March in Chicago, SIS created easy-to-carry-and-fold protest sign books by gluing hand-painted posters together as single-folio signatures. This unique format provided a platform for contemporary intersectional activism and mirrored the challenges faced by women’s march leaders to consider the interconnectivity of all oppressions in an evolved 21st-century feminist debate. Through the pages of their large-scale books, SIS displayed more than 15 different messages of resistance when they demonstrated with more than 250,000 marchers in Chicago’s South Loop earlier this year. Like millions of protesters worldwide, SIS is using artistic expression as a tool for urgent political activism and as a tactic for coalition-building.
About the Artists
Melissa Potter is a multimedia artist, curator, and writer interested in gender rituals, feminism, and women’s craft culture. Her works have been shown at venues and festivals including White Columns, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Reeling LGBT Film Festival. She is a three-time Fulbright recipient to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and has received other awards including the Soros Fund for Arts and Culture, ArtsLink, and the MAKER Grant. She has curated exhibitions including Social Paper: Hand Papermaking in the Context of Socially Engaged Art with Jessica Cochran, and Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice with Neysa Page-Lieberman. Her critical essays have been printed in BOMB, Art Papers, Flash Art, Metropolis M, Hand Papermaking, and AfterImage, among others. She is currently an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago.
Maggie Puckett critiques environmental and social injustices through artist’s books, maps, and sculptures crafted from handmade paper. Each growing season she curates gardens around ecofeminist themes, harvesting the fiber and dye plants to process into raw art materials for her practice. Her work translates complex ecological and historical processes into accessible, physical objects, often collaborating directly with nature and community organizations. She is the corecipient of a 2016 MAKER Grant for Seeds InService, a radical papermaking collaboration with artist Melissa Potter. Her work is in the collections of Dartmouth College, Occidental College, Savannah College of Art and Design, Smith College Museum of Art, St. Ambrose University, and UC Santa Barbara. She holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago in interdisciplinary book and paper arts and a BS in studio art from New York University.