Environmental Installations: Handmade Paper Art by Jane Ingram Allen

Pt. Reyes Site Map

When artists merge the medium of hand papermaking with other art movements, interesting and significant artworks can emerge. You many have already read about papermaking intersecting with performance art, printmaking, and historical process photography.

Well, how about handmade paper and site-specific art? Or paper art that addresses environmental issues, and welcomes participation?

Jane Ingram Allen is an artist, curator, educator, Fulbright scholar, and world-traveler whose work embodies all of the above. She uses local plants and natural materials to create handmade paper installations and sculptures that invite collaboration from the community and viewers.

interactive papermaking wall installation

“Every Drop Counts”, with handmade paper from recycled blue jeans embedded with wildflower seeds. This is an interactive wall installation where visitors are invited to make a pledge to save water, and then take a “drop” from the installation, to take home and plant.

With roots beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, site-specific art artwork is tied to, and influenced by, its location. By using plant fiber materials from the places that Allen visit, the installations have another level of connection with site, beyond the physical elements of depth, shape, length, and the like.


hand beating plant fibers for papermaking

Hand-beating local sugar cane fiber during a residency at Nan Hua University, Chiayi County, Taiwan

hand paper making

An Architecture and Landscape Design student creating a handmade paper prayer flag for the installation “Healing of the Earth”

outdoor environmental art

“Healing the Earth – Nan Hua Prayer Flags”  a collaborative installation where students each created unique flags, installed to symbolically heal a damaged hillside.

Jane Ingram Allen has traveled to the Philippines, Japan, Nepal, and Brazil, completing artist residencies and installations that engage the locale and the people. She has spent the most time in Taiwan, where she completed a Fulbright project researching 135 plants for papermaking, compiling the book Made in Taiwan that shares her adventures and paper recipes.


Everywhere she travels, the artist creates a literal ‘site map’—a gridded, textured map made from local plants, and suspended from the ceiling for displace. They are her way to explore local plants and cultures. Having spent years exploring local plants for papermaking, Allen uses many invasive plant species, since they are problematic across the world.

Her artwork educates participants and viewers about current environmental concerns, addressing issues such as disappearing bird species and balanced ecosystems through concept and material choice.

Biodegradble, outdoor paper art installation

Lancaster Eco-Quilt

Lancaster Eco-Quilt is a recent example. Local plant pulps were mixed with native wildflower seeds, and the public helped to create the biodegradable, paper quilt squares. The eco-quilt was installed outdoors, creating a living garden of wildflowers.


handmade paper art installation

Birds of Peddock’s Island

Another recent project was installation of invasive plant papers at Boston Harbor Islands National Park. Visitors used stencils to create paper silhouettes of endangered birds, making the paper from Oriental Bittersweet vines and Phragmites australis leaves. This work can be currently seen at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center at Long Wharf.


Jane Ingram Allen, artist

Jane Ingram Allen at the Boston Harbor Island National Park artist residency.

Interested in seeing more of Jane Ingram Allen’s artwork?

  • Visit her blog at janeingramallen.wordpress.com to keep updated, and to view even more past projects 
  • Are you in Oregon? Check out her upcoming papermaking workshop at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology
  • And, keep an eye out for her new artwork for the Taiwan Fulbright Foundation 60th anniversary

Photos are taken by Timothy S. Allen, http://allentimphotos2.wordpress.com


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