Roland Poska American, 1938-2017


Roland Poska was a pioneer in the field of printmaking and papermaking and sought to extend and break the boundaries of his chosen medium. He landed on what he called "Papestries" or paper tapestries. His process involved preparing five-gallon buckets of moist cotton fibers mixed with pure powdered pigment to achieve his desired color palette. The texture of the paper pulp varied in consistency from apple sauce to bread dough. He laid handfuls onto plastic sheeting and added elements such as handmade sliced forms and coils. After drying, Poska would flip the panel over and reveal a flattened yet technicolor abstract composition. He would then assess and sometimes alter the surface by adding more pulp, peeling away or overpainting. A sizable work could take six months to complete. Many works consist of multiple panels with intentionally rough and unrefined edges, a nod to the signature deckled edges of handmade paper. Late in his career, he grew his oeuvre to include large sculptures, called Sentinels, made with a similar process. 


Roland Poska was born in Scotland in 1938 and immigrated to Rockford, Illionis when he was a child. He received degrees from Rockford College and Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he was introduced to the mechanics of paper making. He later cofounded the Milwaukee School of Art and Design and taught there while simultaneously running a lithography print studio, Fishy Whale Press.