"The duo held harvesting and papermaking workshops and created an ad-hoc distribution center for radical feminist literature, extending the garden’s metaphor to mean the seeding or cultivation of future generations of activist artists and gardeners." --Jenni Sorkin, critic and curator
Seeds InService goes inside in the winter to produce artworks with the fibers grown in the garden, distribute seeds, and support artistic practice in a collaborative environment with one another and partnering organizations.
Activated through the transformative processes of hand papermaking we connect gardens initiatives to seed stewardship through art. SIS provides the initial tools and education, disseminating knowledge and heirloom and local seeds to communities in need of fresh, local plant-based food.
After harvesting corn, okra, arugula, potatoes, lettuce, and sunflower from the 2014 Seeds InService bed, we got working on turning the material into food, supplies for hand papermaking (like okra slime, which is great for Asian fibers), and papermaking fiber. We designed a series of seed packets and posters to describe the historical and political context for these crops locally, nationally, and internationally. Maggie Puckett designed the image about the history of corn in the Americas. It is letterpress printed on corn paper at the Center for Book & Paper Arts.
This onion tart recipe was created by Melissa Potter, designed by Maggie Puckett, and printed on onion paper created from the garden. The bottoms of the onions were used for the tart. More than just food, easy and inexpensive recipes engage the Seeds InService philosophies on food justice and access, and the local communities that Jane Addams supported through domestic and craft arts classes at Hull House.
Art Papers Intervention
Art Papers May/June 2016
Seeds InService: Works on Paper by Joey Orr and Sally Eaves Hughes A Chicago garden grows feminism, social practice—and a papermaking institute
Food, Sex & Death is a series of work and performance project inspired by research on the the history of the women who worked as sex workers in the location of The Papermaker's Garden at the turn of the 20th Century until the mid-80s.
In that space, fibers are grown to make art, and collect and rename seeds reflecting this untold history. The work weaves together the stories of four Chicago sex workers found in a historical database, Mary Blood, the founder of Columbia College Chicago and a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Hull House Wage Map study workers, who collected information on the brothels, and SIS artists as workers in the same location.
Zapatista Women Have the Right
The traditional Mesoamerican dish transforms into an edition of conceptual art tamales distributed during Chicago's Terrain Art Festival.
Historically, tamales provided on-the-go food for Aztec and Mayan armies. In this way they connect with the idea of Victory Gardens, as they provided nourishment during times of social conflict. These art tamales consist of the outer wrapper (corn husk) and a filling of indigenous corn seeds paired with a small accordion book. The book contains information about the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) Revolutionary Women's Laws.
Corn (maize) is of major importance to the food security of many communities, past and present. Native varieties are under threat from patented, transgenic corn that requires massive amounts of toxic chemical inputs (originally created for war use). Governments, together with transnational agrochemical companies, create economic and agricultural programs that mandate the use of transgenic corn, further endangering traditional crops, the people who depend on them, and biodiversity.
Biological Diversity for All
Maggie Puckett Biological Diversity for All, 2014 Handmade paper, various seeds, found book boards, pva
This artist’s book is a collection of seeds representing many nationalities found in areas surrounding the Hull House Settlement in 1895. The ethnic and racial diversity of the area is translated into a biologically diverse collection of seeds embedded in handmade paper. Biological diversity is the basis for sustainable living. Inspired by the Nationality Map No. 1-4 from Hull-House Maps and Papers: A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, together with comments and essays on problems growing out of social conditions (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1895).
Seed Packet: Velvet Queen Sunflower
According to the wage study conducted by Hull House women in the early 1900s, 488 State was the brothel closest to what is now the Papermaker’s Garden at the intersection of 8th and Wabash.
Though it was unclear to the Hull House workers how much prostitutes made in the Dearborn Station area known as “The Levee,” they knew they made less than $5 a week, less than even the lowest paid worker there.
The only record of the thousands of women who worked in these brothels is Chicago historical homicide database. There are three from the Dearborn Station area listed. We honored them with Velvet Queen sunflowers.
Minnie Brooks, madam of 446 Dearborn, fatally stabbed. Murderer arrested. Callie Grant, fatally cut in a fight with another woman, who got three years. Nellie Scully, fatally shot. Husband acquitted of charges.
Seed Packet: Black Aztec Corn
One of the many species in the SIS garden this year is Black Aztec Corn (Zea mays), an heirloom variety said to have been grown by Aztec farmers 2,000 years ago in Central Mexico. Our particular seed comes from Seed Savers Exchange, whose mission is to “conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.” SSE has traced their seeds back to James J. H. Gregory who made the seed commercially available in the 1860s. Maize, a staple of Aztec cuisine along with beans and squash, was associated with the deity Centeotl, who some believe was originally the goddess of agriculture, Chicomecoatl.
Seed Packet: Lettuce
A series of seed-embedded handmade paper flowers commemorating the lives of sex workers in the South Loop who met violent deaths. Only three women from this area are recorded in the Chicago Homicide Database project at Northwestern University. Jane Addams wrote about some of these workers in her essay, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, but by and large, these women remain anonymous.