A Fulbright Senior Research Award to Sub-Saharan Africa led to my enduring passion for the cultural and artistic richness of Ghana, West Africa. With subsequent funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in partnership with a small group of Ghanaian and international artists, horticulturalists, environmental professionals and educators, I am leading an effort to develop sustainable papermaking in Ghana.
The project began when I learned about an invasive plant growing in the Forest Preserve near Abofour. In 1969, 14 pulp-mulberry plants (Broussonetia Papyrifera) were brought to Ghana from China to evaluate the potential for paper production. The plan was never implemented, but the plant thrived to become a serious, non-indigenous, invasive species – the very plant that has historically produced some of the world's most beautiful papers.
Handmade paper created by our project can be used for artistic purposes, paper bag production, fashion accessories, and designed objects such as lampshades and folding screens. Find out more about this venture through the nonprofit Krataa Foundation website: Ghana Paper Project.