My name is Esther Hwang and I am a rising junior Painting major. Over the course of the past few months, I have been interning at Dieu Donné, a papermill in midtown NYC. Although Dieu Donné has served many different functions throughout the last three decades, today the non-profit organization is a papermill dedicated to collaborating with artists to create a new branch of work based on the material of handmade paper. I was first introduced to the organization by one of my professors, Fabienne Lasserre who had had a residency there last year. However, I first considered applying after I had taken my first silkscreening class in which my professor had noted my prints looked like paper that had been made by pulp painting. Dieu Donné was not too far from where I was from so I was immediately drawn to them. I soon contacted them, sending in my application and resume along with a recommendation letter. After a few e-mail exchanges, an interview, and a time of anticipation for the final word, I was accepted and was expected to start the following month.
When I first arrived, I had to go through some reading and videos to start off my introduction to papermaking and
Dieu Donné. My main supervisors were the papermakers Amy Jacobs and Lisa Switalski. My main responsibilities as a studio intern was to tidy up the studio, help Amy and Lisa set up the studio for classes, and assist on any larger projects in which the
artist allowed for interns to lend hands. Fortunately, there was a very large project that started only a little bit before I had arrived. Ann Hamilton had decided to collaborate with the performance group Bang on a Can to create paper instruments for a new performance to be held at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. I, along with the other studio interns, were allowed to help create these paper instruments which were pieces of paper, ranging in size, with fabric attached to them in order for the instruments to be worn. I spent many of my days at Dieu Donné couching the paper in the wet studio, pressing and loading the paper into the drying systems, taking the paper off the pellons, and finally reinforcing/tacking the paper for the final show. My experience at Dieu Donné was hugely memorable and I was able to learn all the ins and outs of a completely new studio setting. Throughout the few months here, I have been able to witness many new and innovative ways of creating art through the medium of paper and creating paper from its material as a fiber to its final stage as art.