Mixed Media with an Emphasis on Reclaimed Paper
Joleen Emery, Artist Bio
I’m a self-taught mixed media artist focused on the use of reclaimed, recycled, and repurposed paper and fiber. Each year in the United States we toss more than 320 MILLION books into landfills and incinerators. In most cases these books can’t be recycled due to the types of paper, ink, and covers employed by the industry. As our use of digital media grows, so does our pile of discarded books. Ask any teacher, librarian, or sanitation worker just how many books they see thrown in the trash every year — the number is staggering! (And, lest you worry that we’ll someday run out of physical books, have no fear that the free market will step in to print more if there’s a demand for them. Witness the recent resurgence of vinyl
records!) Eight years ago I stumbled across a chess set made from discarded romance novels. I was inspired to make a piece of my own from an old book, and was immediately hooked on sculpting books, folding pages, and cutting paper into unique and visually interesting pieces of art. Textile waste from the fashion and interior design trades also makes its way into my art. I now have more than 300,000 followers on social media who have been inspired by my designs, who attend my classes, workshops, and retreats, and who request tutorials and demonstrations. My role as an artist extends to my home, Big Raven Farm, a bed & breakfast in the Driftless region where Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa meet. We host art, yoga, writing, and cooking retreats, and teach others to use discarded and reclaimed materials in their own artwork.