St. Paul, Minnesota


Mary Hark (b. 1956) is a Professor in Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches papermaking and textile design. She is the proprietor of HARK! Handmade Paper where she produces limited editions of handmade papers in collaboration with book designers and artists, as well as unique paper artworks that have been exhibited internationally. Her work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, the Ginsberg Book Arts Collection in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in many university special collections in the United States. Hark is the recipient of a 2021-22 McKnight Fellowship in Book Arts for her work as a hand papermaker. In 2006, Hark received a Senior Fulbright Research Grant to Sub-Saharan Africa, and continues to lead an initiative in Kumasi, Ghana, building the first hand paper mill in West Africa capable of producing high-quality papers entirely from local botanicals. Hark received an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.


Artist Statement

Driftless Reveries is a response to the drive I take frequently between
Madison, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota. These pieces are from an ongoing series that considers our Midwestern landscape, the built environment in this rural area, and the late afternoon light that I am
frequently driving through.

The work is constructed primarily from handmade flax and linen papers, with linen cloth and other materials that carry a variety of surface qualities. These constructed paintings allow me to explore, among other things, the intrinsic properties of handmade paper. My work considers the poetry of accidental marks. Absorbed color and highly textured surfaces carry ideas that are dark and earthy, as well as luminous, airy, and elegantly fragile. My work also considers the transformative potential of attention and labor.

Driftless Reveries, Handmade papers, linen cloth, thread, and mixed media, 2011-2021, 14x27 in. ea., Courtesy of the artist