Amanda's Resumé

Amanda's Bio

Amanda Degener, a leading figure in the field of hand papermaking and paper arts, educates through writing, publishing, and traveling to teach and exhibit her work in the United States and in places such as Japan, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Korea, and Taiwan/China. At the invitation of Tsing’hua University in Beijing, Degener established a hand papermaking studio in the Book Design Department and occasionally travels to teach there.

At Minnesota Center for Book Arts Degener was first artist-in-residence (1984-1987) and first Artistic Director (1997-1998). Amanda Degener worked at Hand Papermaking, a biannual magazine which she co-founded/co-published (1985-1992) with Michael Durgin. She began Cave Paper casually in the 1980’s then officially co-ran it with Bridget O’Malley from (1994-2017). Degener was part of Cave Paper (1994-2020), a mill known for its durable papers, made from flax and cotton; often dyed with combinations of black walnut hulls, indigo, red iron oxide or persimmon. Cave’s papers are desired by artists, bookbinders and fine publishers worldwide as indicated by an increase in production from 1990 (400 sheets per year) to 2019 (10,000 sheets per year).  In 2020 Cave Paper moved to Tucson AZ where it is owned and operated by Zoe Goehring.

Degener is now a full time artist and also making books under the name HMPeditions.

2024 Artist Statement

Amanda Degener’s work draws attention to nature, and it evokes emotions towards the environment that we also feel for humans: love, empathy, compassion, and care.

The ancient matrix of handmade paper fits well with the spiritual, holistic, historic, and natural ideas that inspire her art. The artist’s intention is to create a visual example of the inter-relationship between environment in both the material and spiritual world.

During this dialogue she cooks, beats, colors, moulds, presses, and dries what started as a plant. Depending how the fiber is prepared it can look like fragile translucent skin, expensive leather, or even metal. The plants and natural dyes are a mixture of fiber, sun, soil, and rain. While she processes the materials there is an exchange of Qi with the materials; her spirit and heart get infused into the work. Because of the process involved with hand papermaking making art with paper seems more about noticing than manipulating.

The labor-intensive process of making paper by hand helps Degener, and others who view her work, to remember that time is not as the 21st century seems to demand. The chaotic world may be speeding by, ever faster and ever changing, but our needs have not changed. Reflection, nearness, care, and love are found in slowness. Slowness is where we are renewed, where we sense ourselves in the world and find the boundaries of our own existence. This “doing” seems to include undoing. When engaged with making, the incessant banter of the brain is gone or no longer dominates. The busy hand quiets the brain; it brings the mind to a calmer state. This slowness has been one threshold to freedom and timelessness. Slowness is where we are renewed. There is a restfulness of working till things are fully resolved.

Something as simple as water dripping from the paper mould, can help one to listen and accept the flow of life. Effortless things, like a daily practice of Tai Chi, can teach us to simply let go of trying to accomplish, be in the moment, and feel the way forward.