Sewing Circle & Spice Trade Potluck with The Rhinoceros Project

cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper, turmeric…


Join us at RTS for a sewing circle & potluck with The Rhinoceros Project on December 16th at 6pm!

As we delve further into the constellation of ideas surrounding The Rhinoceros Project – colonialism, imperialism, habitat decimation, wonder, reconnecting with our bodies and the land, and the whole of the complexities of our time, we invite you to whip up a dish inspired by the Spice Trade and join us in a warm evening of dining, sharing voices, and adding stitches to the life-size embroidery of a greater one-horned Indian Rhinoceros.

Through participatory sewing circles, The Rhinoceros Project is recreating Albrecht Durer’s 1515 woodblock print of an Indian Rhinoceros as a life size embroidery that will in turn be used to make a watermark in monumental sheets of handmade paper. When the embroidery is complete, we will pull an edition of three of these watermarks – an image literally created by the absence of paper pulp – to commemorate the three remaining Northern White Rhinoceri. Albrecht Durer’s print documents the 1515 landing of an Indian Rhinoceros in Lisbon – a gift from a sultan to a king and the first to be seen in Europe in 1000 years – a nearly mythic creature. In his Nuremberg workshop, Durer based his image on a sketch & descriptive account, never having seen the creature himself. Forebodingly, our Rhinoceros was re-gifted to Pope Leo & drowned in a shipwreck, shackled below deck, on the way to Rome.

Durer’s Rhinoceros travelled to Lisbon via the newly discovered seafaring passage to and from India: down the west coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, back up the eastern coast, and across the Indian Ocean. In 1497, Vasco da Gama set out in search of this route in order to cut out the middlemen in the Mediterranean who had exclusive control on the spice trade. Operating on orders from the same Portuguese king who received our Rhinoceros in 1515, da Gama found a direct path to the city of Calicut, also known as The City of Spices, giving Portugal a firm hold on the spice trade as well as a site for colonization and growing empire.

The Rhinoceros Project instigators are Anne Beck & Michelle Wilson. For more information:

Michelle Wilson is a printmaker, papermaking, book, installation, and social practice artist. Her practice includes frequent collaborations with other artists, in particular her ongoing projects Book Bombs (with Mary Tasillo) and the Rhinoceros Project (with Anne Beck). Her practice explores interconnections between environmental issues, colonialism, natural history, migration, and the loss of diversity. She is a past recipient of grants from the Puffin Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Artist-Investigator Project of the Triangle Arts Lab, and the Small Plates Imprint program from the San Francisco Center for the Book. Her works of art are in various collections, including Yale University (New Haven, CT), the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC), and the Mediatheque Andre Malraux (Strasbourg, France). Wilson currently teaches printmaking at San Jose State University and Stanford University.

Anne Beck works collaboratively and independently in a variety of media from painting to print and bookmaking to public intervention. Broadly, she explores the roles of amateur naturalist and lay surveyor of the current landscape—collecting specimens and recording data, cataloging that which seems useful, and investigating further that which seems impermeable. This is all in the context of envisioning a sustainable path forward for herself and the planet, which is often a playful exercise in the face of absurd and complex circumstance. Beck’s works of art have been featured in In the Make, Studio Visits with West Coast ArtistsWorks & Days QuarterlyHyperallergic, and Dublin’s The Visual Artists News Sheet. She has received residency awards from the Virginia Center of Creative Arts, Can Serrat in El Bruc, Spain, Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus in Schwandorf, Germany, and was Barstow Artist-in-Residence at Central Michigan University. She is a 2015 recipient of the Fath Scholarship for Artists and Artisans of the Book from the Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia, and received a project grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Beck lives and works in Northern California.

Potluck and Sewing Circle at RTS! | 2017 | Uncategorized