Melissa Potter

Solo Exhibition - Cultivator at Bray Grove Farm
Monday, Memorial Day, May 27, 2024, 2-5pm

Cultivator is pleased to present Melissa Potter’s solo exhibition during Bray Grove Farm’s Spring Farm Day.

Please rsvp and join us on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27th from 2-5pm for art, conversation, light refreshments, and an afternoon on our small holistic farm. Bray Grove Farm is located 70 miles southwest of Chicago in Grundy County. To confirm your attendance and receive directions and parking information, kindly email.

Raised among multiple generations of artists and feminists, my practice interprets the distinct language and history of women’s handicraft, plant medicine, and gender rituals. I focus on traditions that are threatened, underpaid and under-recognized due to industrialization, war, gender bias, and climate crisis. Informed by engagements with ethnographers, botanists, activists and citizen scientists, my projects explore international locations where these threats create entangled endangerments between loss of these practices and the loss of the land these practices depend upon. Through three Fulbright awards and funding from the Open Society, this work has had a special focus on the Former Soviet States over the past 20 years. My practices in hand papermaking, weaving, handmade books, and video have been influenced by projects with felt artisans, flax weavers, basket makers, hand dyers, and herbalists among others. I seek to make my practices a way to amplify and interpret these traditions at risk and evolve them into future contexts.

For decades, hand papermaking has intrigued me as an ecofeminist practice. I position this marginalized form in a broader art and theoretical context through my artworks, writing, and performances. My latest work propagates endangered plants to study possibilities for rewilding our decimated prairie lands and how these native species have been used over time by humans in symbiotic relationships. Throughout Chicago, I have created multi-sited gardens with themes including the invisible work of prairie root systems to remediate carbon intersected with disappearing women’s crafts of the Midwest, for instance. The projects are multi-disciplinary in scope involving substantial research and project development. 

- Melissa Potter

Melissa Hilliard Potter is a feminist interdisciplinary artist, writer, and curator whose work has been exhibited in venues including White Columns, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, to name a few. Her films have been screened at international film festivals, such as the Cinneffable and the Reeling International LGBT Film Festival.

Potter has been the recipient of three Fulbright Scholar grants, as well as funding from CEC ArtsLink, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and Soros Fund for Arts and Culture, all of which enabled her to build two papermaking studios at university art departments in Serbia and Bosnia & Hercegovina. In addition, she collaborated with women felt artisans and activists from Georgia through her project, “Craft Power,” with Miriam Schaer.

As a curator, Potter’s exhibitions include “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 curatorial and recent hand papermaking projects, including “Seeds InService” with Maggie Puckett, have been funded by the Crafts Research  Fund, Clinton Hill Foundation, The Nathan Cummings Foundation & Jane M. Saks, and the MAKER Grant.

A prolific writer, her critical essays have been printed in BOMB, Art Papers, Flash Art, Metropolis M, Hand Papermaking, and AfterImage among others.

Photo: Flax Feminism, Chicago Architecture Biennial program for 6018 North, 2021

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