Arts & Events

Papermaker Hiebert shares

Hiebert displays some of her beautiful work.

On Thursday Nov. 10, Collins Memorial Library played host to Helen Hiebert, an artist who specializes in papermaking, and her exhibit In Display of Wonder.

Hiebert, hailing from Portland, has been working with paper for almost 16 years. She has authored two books (both can be found in Collins Library) and has been commissioned to write a third. She recently finished work on a short film documenting her work titled Water, Paper, Time.

During the exhibit Hiebert showed her film in its entirety, running about 15 minutes in length. Afterward, while displaying her paper/poetry piece “String Theory,” several in the audience stopped her to comment on how beautiful the film was. Library Director Jane Carlin emphasized that the film would be available to check out from Collins Library immediately after the exhibit.

In March 2011, Hiebert premiered her largest work to date, “Mother Tree.” During the exhibit, Helen went into the detail of how she conceived, planned and built the piece, making sure those of us in the audience understood how much support she had received from around the world.

“Mother Tree” is a seven-foot tall wedding gown comprised almost entirely of paper made from plants that Hiebert grew, processed and created herself. However, to create the almost 2,000 individual crochets required for the roots of the dress (hence “Mother Tree”), Hiebert enlisted the help of anyone she could. She spent every day of the first few weeks at the exhibit crocheting, and many who saw her exhibit volunteered to help.

Helen told us she only spent about three hours working alone on the crochets. A third grade teacher brought her class in to help, a news team picked up her story, and eventually Helen began to get crochets from abroad. On the last day she received a package from Europe with two crochets and a note that read, “These are dedicated to my mother, who passed away while I was working on them.”

With “Mother Tree” fully assembled, it began its tour across the U.S. (it is currently in Michigan). Helen hopes to one day tour it across the globe.

Hiebert was born in Tennessee but soon after moved to Texas, where she was raised. She credits her mother for giving her a passion for art, beginning with art lessons her mother’s friends gave her as a child.

From there, Hiebert went to Tennessee’s University of the South, where she studied art. While still in school Helen visited her father, who was working in Japan, and was fascinated by the paper room dividers she saw in many of the houses she visited. When she returned to the United States, paper was her medium of choice, her passion and her hobby. Ultimately, paper became her career.