News | June 4, 2021

Two Minnesota Book Artists Win $25,000 Fellowships 

Courtesy of MCBA

Left: Mary Hark, Editioned handmade papers, each sheet is 18” x 24”, flax and abaca fiber, hand painted pigments.Right: Sonja Peterson, Lost and Searching (Detail), 2016. Hand-cut paper. 50”h x 110”w.

Minneapolis, MN — Minnesota Center for Book Arts is thrilled to announce the 2021 McKnight Book Artist Fellows, Mary Hark and Sonja Peterson! Both are artists of exceptional merit who work with paper. Hark is a papermaker and paper artist, while Peterson’s work encompasses paper cuts, bookmaking, collage, and stencils.

Now in its second year, MCBA’s partnership with the McKnight Foundation supports mid-career book artists living in Minnesota, allowing them time for study, experimentation, and the creation of new work. Hark and Peterson will each receive $25,000 awards, 24/7 studio access through MCBA's Artist Collective, and a range of professional opportunities throughout their fellowship year, which runs from August 2021 to July 2022. These include documentation of their artwork, studio visits from a national figure in the book arts, featured participation in a panel at Open Book, a travel honorarium, and the chance to attend an artist residency program.

MCBA’s panel of distinguished jurors, Islam Aly, Jae Jennifer Rossman, and Clarissa Sligh (whose bios follow below), reviewed applications, narrowed the pool to six finalists, and conducted virtual studio visits with all finalists in early May. All three jurors were captivated by Hark and Peterson’s work in particular.

"The colors, textures, and patterns that occupy the paper of Mary Hark appear uniquely refined," noted Juror Islam Aly. "She skillfully brings new life and meaning to the paper, infusing her work with layers of significance and purpose."

About Sonja Peterson, Juror Jae Jennifer Rossman shared, "The delicacy and intricacy of the cut paper and the compelling nature of the embedded content draw in the viewer and invite them to really spend time with the work."