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Lost and Found: Messengers from The Edge Symposium Combines Plants, Animals, Art, Writing, and Reverence

Program features Wool Warrior Margaret B. Russell and Hemp Evangelist Melissa Hankens

Newburyport, MA, March 17, 2019 – Paula Estey Gallery (PEG), A Center for Art and Activism, is hosting its first major symposium from May 17 – 18th with two artists who use natural materials to make beautiful handmade crafts while supporting their passion and environmental beliefs. The artists are Margaret B. Russell, a handweaver from Newbury, MA with more than 38 years of experience whose family lineage in textiles, weaving and wool workers goes back to the founding of our nation, and Melissa Hankens, a Hemp Evangelist from Salem, MA, who makes extensive use of natural fibers, primarily hemp, to make one-of-a-kind creations. More than just a weaving workshop, the program will include discussion of artists using their activism to bring about change.

Tickets for the two-day event are $100. This includes the Friday Evening event, two workshops on Saturday and lunch, as well as take-home gifts. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at: The event will take place at 3 Harris Street in Newburyport, MA.

 “The title of this symposium “Lost and Found: Messengers from the Edge” speaks perfectly to the changes at the Gallery,” said Gallery Owner Paula Estey. “We believe that a reverence, respect and love for the Earth has been lost and is now being found or remembered by those of us who are dedicated to waking up. ‘Messengers from the Edge’ speaks to the environmental ideas about edges and how edges are where the health or illness of a planet can be found: the edges of marshland, highways, railroads, yards, all matter in the ecosystems of our lives. The edge is where extinction sits, waiting.”

She added that the program will look at animal life and a plant life that have been altered by mankind’s imposition to be rendered on the verge of extinction and out of our reach for use, self-healing and empowerment.

The Schedule includes:

Friday evening, May 17

·         6:00 p.m.  A reading of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “An Allegiance to Gratitude,” a video, and talk on “Mapping a New Geography of Hope” and discussion.

Saturday, May 18

·        10:00 a.m.  Wool Warrior Margaret B. Russell leads “Weaving Legends,” a history lesson, a poetic celebration, an art exhibit and a hands-on ceremony. Margaret will share her research on extinct sheep breeds and love for the animals whose wool she uses.

o   Part 1 of Weaving Legends: Learn why a handweaver is helping to conserve threatened sheep breeds being raised by British, Irish, and American farmers and flock keepers.

o   Part 2 of Weaving Legends: Discover how of this engagement in conservation will summon the senses and stir the heart. A selection of Margaret’s woven pieces, known as Preservation Wraps, will be on exhibit. Each piece in this private collection represents a vulnerable, watch-listed British breed. This life project, when complete, will have over 70 pieces in the collection. The extraordinary stories of several of these breeds will be told.  All participants will receive a woven rare breed gift. We will close with a short reading to honor all creatures.

·        12:30-1:30 p.m.  Plant-based lunch together, provided by Mandarava, a vegan restaurant in Newburyport.

·        1:30-3:30 p.m.  Hemp Evangelist Melissa Hankens presents “Hemp: The Quiet Revolution,” exploring the history of hemp, how its cultivation can benefit our planet, and how modern processing methods make hemp fabric indistinguishable from linen.

“Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated crops on planet earth, revered for its innumerable uses over time. Yet the early 20th century ushered in its downfall here in America thanks to aggressive campaigning from opposing interests and the resulting Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Overnight, the plant that rigged the U.S.S. Constitution and gave us the first pair of Levi’s, was stricken from our fields and our way of life. At this point of crisis, hemp may be the environmental savior we need,” said Hankens.

Everyone will receive the gift of a handwoven hemp utility cloth, a beautiful and functional piece with myriad uses around the house. 

·        3:30-4:00 p.m.  Closing Circle of Reverence ceremony to de-brief, affirm and set intentions.

For more information about the presenters, please visit Margaret B. Russell’s website at and Melissa Hankens’ website at

About Paula Estey Gallery: A Center for Art & Activism The mission of Paula Estey Gallery: A Center for Art & Activismis to provide our clients and visitors with the transcendent beauty of contemporary art and to be a catalyst for conscious change. We seek to elevate the quality of our community and lives through creative expression, engaging conversations, and committed action. We focus our efforts on the Natural World and embrace a global range of participation for our art and artists. Visit the gallery at 3 Harris Street in Newburyport, MA or follow us at for events, programming and more. Paula Estey can be reached at 978-376-4746 or

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