If Trees Could Speak: Meeting Up with Barbara Beisinghoff

October 28, 2016 by

Seven years ago Barbara Beisinghoff visited WSW to make her artist’s book The Angel is My Watermark and since then, she’s opened her studio, Atelierhaus Beisinghoff, to visiting artists and recipients of the Beisinghoff Printmaking Residency. We caught up with her a few years ago in our Alumnae Spotlight; now she’s back with paper, watermarks, and enchanted trees. 

Barbara showing her watermarks and prints to Vassar College students in the WSW studios.


Vassar College students pulling paper in the WSW studio.

Every October, WSW prepares for the new faces to fill the papermaking studio as part of our Art-in-Education program or Kingston High School’s Chemistry and Paper workshop. This year we were a little busier as we welcomed Vassar College students, led by WSW alumna Barbara Beisinghoff, to pull some pulp as well.

Barbara was invited to Vassar as an artist-in-residence by Silke von der Emde, Associate Professor in German Studies, and Tom Pacio, coordinator for Vassar’s Creative Arts Across Disciplines (CAAD) initiative. Each year, CAAD programs thematically focus on one of the five senses; this year centers around touch. As Barbara’s work explores the multiple definitions of the German word begreifen (to touch, grip, grasp, or understand), she was asked to join in the curriculum. She visited and lectured across academic departments, exhibited in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Library, and brought the Plant Biology course to WSW to demonstrate papermaking.

During her residency, paper made its way out of the studio and into the heart of Vassar, where pink and white pulp spelled out excerpts from Paul Celan and Wolfgang von Goethe‘s literature across the largest tree on campus. Dubbed the POETREE, the paper has been left up so it can wear away gradually. Barbara led a similar project at Poughkeepsie Day School, where students pressed passages from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales onto trees to create an “Enchanted Forest.”

While we could only join Barbara for parts of her residency, German multimedia artist Eva Wal filmed a documentary of the POETREE, the exhibition When Light Touches Paper, and the Poughkeepsie Day School project. Catch up with Barbara by checking out her film, Grow Vaulted, World:

Barbara Beisinghoff is a prolific German printmaker and owner of Atelierhaus Beisinghoff. Eva Wal is a multimedia artist and museum educator in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Her work ranges from artist’s books to performance and video. Be sure to watch Eva’s documentary and keep an eye on the POETREE as the words wear away this season!