McKnight Book Artist Fellows to Speak at Closing Reception

The exhibition, now on view at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, closes Saturday, April 1 

On Friday, March 31, 6–8pm, Minnesota Center for Book Arts invites the public to join the 2020 and 2021 McKnight Book Artist Fellows in the gallery for a last look at the stunning work they produced during their fellowships. The exhibition features a wide range of book arts, including artists’ books, marbled papers, ceramic sculpture, box works, flax and linen handmade papers, and hand-cut paper stories. 

Each year, MCBA partners with the McKnight Foundation to offer two transformative fellowships to mid-career book artists living and working in Minnesota who have created a substantial body of work over a sustained period of time. The first fellows to be selected for the program were Paula McCartney and Lisa Nebenzahl (2020), followed by Mary Hark and Sonja Peterson (2021). These exceptional book artists each received an unrestricted $25,000 award, studio visits from national critics/curators, travel stipends, and two years of MCBA studio access.

Paula McCartney makes artist’s books, photographs, and ceramics that illustrate her collaborations with the natural world. For this exhibition, McCartney was inspired by the constantly eroding rocks surrounding the Nakalele Blowhole on Maui. Her photographs and ceramic sculptures capture the rocks themselves, while her marbled paper (using a style called “stones”) creates a dialog with them.

Lisa Nebenzahl creates work that ponders themes of resilience and fragility, loss, and the passage of time. In this exhibition, the cyanotype prints which comprise The Chico Poems—a posthumous collaboration with her mother—radiate deep blue from the white gallery walls. For her Box Works, Nebenzahl folded and constructed images with rice papers in three dimensions, creating a container where abstraction, landscape, and nature share space.

Mary Hark produces limited editions of handmade flax, linen, and abaca papers in collaboration with book designers and artists, as well as unique paper artworks that have been exhibited internationally. Her studio, HARK! Handmade Paper Studio, has been operating out of St. Paul for more than 20 years. For this exhibition, Hark focused on the intrinsic material qualities of handmade paper, creating surfaces that range from “dark and earthy” to “luminous, airy, and elegantly fragile.

Sonja Peterson is a working artist who graduated with a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where she now works in the Art Department. Suspended in space, her large, papercut narratives have a structural integrity that is, at times, “reliant on its interconnectivity; if elements disconnect, the entire system is in threat of collapse.” This is also a thematic element in her work.

Help us celebrate these exceptional book artists at the closing reception with refreshments, creative company, and short statements from each fellow.





Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1982. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 14 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $2.8 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit


The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research.