On Paper Wings

Work of the Week: Over 400 people (including some of you) have contributed roots to the Mother Tree Project since I launched it in Portland in 2009. Six years later, I’m still dwelling on this theme that was sparked when I overheard a father telling his children that me nursing my baby was one of the most beautiful things in the world. My work centers around similarities and connections. After pondering that comment (for years) I decided to focus on mother’s milk as a thread that connects women of all time. 

Mother Tree at UIS Springfield, 2011. Young women crocheted roots with me and walked the labyrinth.

Mother Tree at UIS Springfield, 2011. Women’s Center members crocheted roots and then walked the labyrinth.

I was born on Mother’s Day in 1965 and have often tried to conjure the feelings my own mother must have had on that day, because her first child (the one before me) was stillborn. Unimaginable. In 2010, a group of women in Australia got together on Mother’s Day and crocheted roots for my sculpture. I am humbled by the many others who have contributed their stories and roots to this project. It is my hope that one day Mother Tree will be a permanent installation somewhere, perhaps in a place of healing.


I am not one for big celebrations, but I do enjoy honoring traditions, including making paper and handwriting. My grandmother had a tablecloth that she put out for family reunions. We all wrote our names on it, spiraling out from the center. Between reunions she would embroider the names, and the tablecloth is now a family heirloom that contains the hands of many. I’ve just completed embroidering 50 people’s handwritten words about mother/motherhood on this skirt. 

The Sunday Paper #54

A colleague posted recently about this Radiolab show featuring the Japanese balloon bombs of WWII. Did you know that 9,000 giant paper balloons were launched carrying bombs across the jet stream towards the US? It is refreshing to listen to a story on the radio (please take 30 minutes – you will enjoy it). The story briefly mentions the film On Paper Wings by Ilana Sol, a documentary of four Japanese women who worked on balloon bombs, the families of those killed in the U.S., and the man whose actions brought them all together forty years after WWII, and the balloon bomb project. I met Ilana when I lived in Portland, and my hands made a cameo in her film, making paper of course! 

Balloon in hangar: A caption reads: "Overall photograph of Japanese balloon inflated with apparatus properly suspended." (Photo Credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

Balloon in hangar: A caption reads: “Overall photograph of Japanese balloon inflated with apparatus properly suspended.” (Photo Credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

Oh my gosh this is so cool! The Korean equivalent of Mr. Rogers. Mr. Paper Folding appeared on Korean television for ten years teaching kids how to fold paper!


Whoa, this a lot of decommissioned dollars! During his exhibition, artist Jason Hughes sold 10-year bonds for $100. When the bonds mature, the collector can put it toward $250 worth of Hughes’ art. Invest in art! 

Evergreen,' a zigguratlike structure in the center of one of the galleries, is made from 1.5 million decommissioned dollars. (Sarah Wockenfuss / April 3, 2015) - See more at: http://www.citypaper.com/arts/visualart/bcpnews-cash-rules-jason-hughes-terms-conditions-makes-money-into-art-20150407,0,6514060.story#sthash.lk0epMB6.dpuf

Evergreen,’ a zigguratlike structure in the center of one of the galleries, is made from 1.5 million decommissioned dollars. (Sarah Wockenfuss / April 3, 2015)

The Seager Gray Gallery in Marin County is hosting its 8th annual Art of the Book exhibition. It never ceases to amaze me – how diverse a book can be and the multiple uses of paper. View all of the works in the show here

Jacqueline Rush Lee Anthologia (Devotion Series)

Jacqueline Rush Lee, Anthologia (Devotion Series)

I love this story: The Salina Art Center in Kansas has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the project “Healing Threads: A Paper Mill for Salina.” The inspiration for the project was a workshop by the Peace Paper Project (look them up). This is grass roots papermaking at work!

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I’m Helen Hiebert!

THE SUNDAY PAPER brings you stories and examples of people doing exciting, innovative, and beautiful things with paper, as well as link to interesting paperfacts from around the globe. Read all about it here!

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