Korean Paper Art with Aimee Lee

If you love paper, perhaps you've delighted in using sheets of unusual, loosely fibered mulberry paper from your local craft store. But have you ever wondered about the who, where, and how behind these beautiful papers? Aimee Lee, who filmed the video of Korean jiseung weaving with hanji that I featured here earlier this week, definitely has.

ink drawing on sheet of hanji
Aimee Lee: Gaping III (2009). Ink on hanji; 52 x 53 inches

I admire the way Aimee is meticulously introducing a subject to the internet that has never been thoroughly covered. A paper artist and also, as she phrases it, "the self-appointed hanji ambassador to the English and Korean-speaking worlds," Aimee is doing her best to document Korean paper making. Hanji, by the way, has the smoothest surface of all the handmade papers, making it well suited for painting and calligraphy.

Aimee Lee: Round (2008). Handmade abaca paper, spun and knit, 10" diameter

An American born to Korean parents, Aimee realized there was huge gap in English documentation of paper making in Korea while she was studying for a Master's degree in interdisciplinary book and paper arts, so traveled there to explore the subject after being awarded a Fulbright grant.

Aimee Lee: Currency Flight (2008). Price tags, thread, spun handmade paper, variable installation length up to 143 inches

She plans to write a book about all facets of Korean paper making, but meanwhile has posted online a great deal of what she learned in Korea. Currently Aimee is back in the States, creating her own extraordinary artwork composed of hanji and other types of paper she makes herself, and is also a performance, sound, visual, book, and text artist.

Aimee Lee: Paper (2007). Sample books of handmade paper from plants found in North Central Wyoming: sagebrush and cattail. 6.5 x 5 x 1 inch closed, 60 inches opened

You might enjoy this video Aimee recorded that shows her making sheets of hanji while working at a third and fourth generation family-run paper mill in Gapyeong, Korea last year. I found it to be quite a mesmerizing process.

Thanks to Aimee Lee's extensive documentation of the subject, the art of Korean paper making and weaving is far less likely to slip away with time... not to mention I now appreciate beautiful, specialty papers even more after seeing how much work goes into their creation!

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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