Interdisciplinary Arts Associate Professor and Director of the Book & Paper Program Melissa Potter, currently on sabbatical until Fall 2015, has recently returned from Fulbright-funded study and work in Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Potter spent over two months in Sarajevo working tirelessly on multiple projects generated from her professional expertise and her strong ties to the region. She has been the recipient of three Fulbright awards: two to Serbia, and one to Bosnia and Hercegovina. Potter marvels on the “opportunity to research and teach in two countries that were once at war. This was an extraordinary experience for me, and provided an incredible opportunity to understand first hand experiences in a region that remains still so divided.”
One project Potter spearheaded was Pulp & Pastry, which engages the art of hand papermaking with the intangible heritage of Bosnian cooking. “Both food and hand papermaking reflect their places of origin and carry their cultural histories, and are made through labor with many of the same materials,” notes Potter. 2014 Book & Paper alumna Jillian Bruschera joined Potter in Sarajevo for this project and others, bringing her Mobile Mill and working with their other collaborator, Adam Pantić, faculty member in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Belgrade.
Potter also donated her grant writing and coaching expertise to the Commission to Preserve National Monuments on a million dollar grant to reopen the National Museum, which has been closed since 2012, and started a body of work about a refugee from Bosnia who Potter and her grandmother sponsored during the war in the 90s. Potter also conducted interviews with Katie Ryken, a Fulbright recipient also in Sarajevo, the CURE Foundation, BOSFAM in Tuzla, and artist Andreja Duganzic, who co-founded an online archive documenting the women’s anti-fascist group during the rise of Tito’s Yugoslavia. These interviews are featured on her blog, Gender Assignment.
Potter has returned knowing that her recent experience as a Fulbright scholar, “was transformative for me intellectually, artistically, and personally in ways that will continue to have outcomes in my career” and that she will “plan future collaborations with artists, faculty and students from Sarajevo, and so these artistic and intellectual outcomes will continue to expand as we continue our work together.” Her colleagues and students in the Interdisciplinary Arts department look forward to seeing Potter’s work as it grows out of this vital scholarly and artistic experience.