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Paper Works by Melissa Jay Craig and Amy Richard




DATE: Fri, October 20 – Sat, November 18,  2017

OPENING RECEPTION: October 20 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Like the intermolecular forces within cellulose fibers, the friendship and resulting creative bond between artists Melissa Jay Craig and Amy Richard was predictable.

Richard, a recent MFA graduate, sought out Craig as a mentor for her sculptural thesis work in 2016. Within minutes of meeting in Craig’s Chicago studio, the two recognized similarities in their investigative approach and ideas and knew the short-term apprenticeship would begin a meaningful dialogue. They’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Grounded in Eastern papermaking sensibilities, both consider their work a response to the profound energy exhibited in nature.

Craig’s lifelong fascination with the forms and functions of fungi, lichens and various plants led to an exploration of the possibilities of plant languages, and to speculation about messages they may be attempting to extend to humans, even at the cellular level.

Sharing Craig’s enthusiasm for the elegant patterns and structures found in nature, Richard explored similar ideas in her thesis work, Drawing from the Book of Nature. Captivated by the natural relics she collects and studies, Richard’s work speaks to the metaphysical energy perceived in the organisms, even after life has expired.

For both artists, the cryptic messages emitted in nature serve as daily reminders of our interbeing* with one other and the environment, as well as our own tenuous existence on this planet.


*a term coined by Vietnamese monk and Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh


Melissa Jay Craig is a sculptor, book and installation artist whose primary medium is handmade paper. Her work is represented in the Chicago area by ZIA Gallery, and is included in museum, rare book, print and artists’ book collections throughout the U.S. Melissa has been awarded numerous residencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts studio residency at Women’s Studio Workshop.  She is a Distinguished Resident at the Ragdale Foundation, where she was also the 2014 Prairie Fellow.


Amy Richard is a visual artist and sculptor. Born in South Miami, Florida, childhood forays to coastal waters instilled a lifelong interest in the environment and natural sciences. After completing a BFA degree in painting/drawing (1984), she worked as a studio artist, illustrator, science writer and educator in the aquatic sciences for more than 20 years.

Recently, she completed a Master of Fine Arts in Book Arts at the University of Iowa, Center for the Book. Upon returning to her home in Gainesville, Florida, Richard established a small paper mill/studio where she produces her work for exhibitions, teaches workshops and private lessons.

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