Excerpt from: Exhibition at USM honors Richard Lee’s ‘Paper Trails’ Read the full article HERE.By Bob Keyes
Rebecca Goodale was vacationing in western Maine and looking for creative ways to fill her week.
She noticed an ad for a papermaking workshop at a local farm. The tagline got her attention: “Bring a cardboard box.” Goodale was impressed with the instructor’s ambition. “It was clear we were going to make a lot of stuff,” she said.
The instructor was Richard Lee, one of the most gregarious and energetic contemporary artists in Maine. Goodale came away with much more than a box of paper that day. She left the workshop with enthusiasm for the material and has since become one of Maine’s best-known makers of artist books.
As coordinator of the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for the Books Arts at the University of Southern Maine, Goodale was instrumental in arranging the latest exhibition in the school’s Glickman Library, “Richard Lee: Paper Trails.” It includes books, collages, travel journals and other items made by Lee, who died at age 75 in 2008.
“Paper Trails” is the first exhaustive look at Lee’s work since his death, his longtime companion Christine Macchi said. Macchi, who directs Maine FiberArts in Topsham, curated the show in coordination with Goodale and another longtime friend of Lee’s, Arlene Morris…
After moving to Maine in the 1980s, Lee became obsessed with paper. Part of his obsession stemmed from Maine’s pulp legacy, Macchi said. “I’m going to learn how to make paper, and then I’ll teach everybody else how to make paper,” she recalled him saying.
He lived up to his word. Over the next two decades, Lee traveled across Maine teaching school kids and adults like Goodale how to make paper. His workshops were known for being loud and fun. School kids loved Lee because he encouraged them to get messy. Adults liked him because they appreciated his raw enthusiasm – and because they came away with tangible results of their effort with sheets of handmade paper.
“Richard was an exceptional teacher,” Goodale said. “He had a big personality, and he was full of energy. He was ambitious and confident, and he had an amazing ability to reach people and inspire them.”
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