About Don Widmer

Artist Statement

Don Widmer combines hand papermaking, bookbinding, and printing to create works inspired by storytelling and real and imagined histories. His handmade paper is pulp painted, a fiber technique where imagery is "painted" with pigmented cotton fiber during the formation of the sheet. His sculptural artist books include his own writing and incorporate unusual book structures featuring movement and light.  


Widmer has exhibited throughout the Midwest, including Glenview Public Library, Terrain Biennial (Columbia College Chicago), Arts on Elston, Side Street Studio Arts, Morpho Gallery, Art on Track, Hearts-A-Bluhm, and Illinois Wesleyan University. His recent awards include First Place Fine Art (Spring Bloom Fine Arts Festival), Judge's Choice Award (Greenwich Village Art Fair), Second Place Mixed Media (Crosby Festival of the Arts), Best in Show (West End Art Festival La Grange), and Best in Medium (Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair). Widmer has taught papermaking workshops at the Arlington Heights Art Guild, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, and Spudnik Press. His work is represented in several university and library collections nationwide. Raised in Cleveland, Widmer received his MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago in May 2012. Prior to his art career, he was Library Director at VanderCook College of Music from 1996-2009.  


Solo Shows: 

  • "Pulp and Steel: an Exhibition of Architectural Pulp Paintings," The Gallery, Arzoumanian & Co. (Skokie, Illinois), November 5-30, 2016
  • "Artist Books by Don Widmer," Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, Illinois), May 1-31, 2013

Group Shows:

  • "Five Years Later," Agitator Gallery (Chicago, Illinois), November 2017
  • "Words Matter," Arts on Elston (Chicago, Illinois), October, 2016 
  • "Words Matter," Arts on Elston (Chicago, Illinois), October, 2015 
  • "Objects of Desire," a one-day papermaking workshop/exhibit (part of Victory Gardens: Terrain Biennial at the Papermaker's Garden), Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, Illinois), September 24, 2015 
  • "More Than," part of Elgin Literary Festival, Side Street Studio Arts (Elgin, Illinois), February 6-8, 2015 
  • "Krampuslauf," Side Street Studio Arts (Elgin, Illinois), December, 2014 
  • "Open House and Art Exhibit," Zenith Art Studio (River Forest, Illinois, December, 2014
  • "Outside the Margin," book arts exhibition, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (Silver Spring, Maryland), November, 2014 
  • "Something Wicked," Side Street Studio Arts (Elgin, Illinois), October, 2014 
  • EXPO Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, Navy Pier (Chicago), September 18-21, 2014 
  • "9th Annual Emerging Artist Exhibition," Morpho Gallery (Chicago), February 22-March 6, 2014 
  • "The Landscape is Changing: Chicago," Framing Mode & Gallery (Chicago), October 1-November 16, 2013 (voted Audience Favorite) 
  • "Thinking Outside the Book," Werkspace Gallery (Chicago), October 5-28, 2012 
  • "Art on Track," CTA elevated train car (Chicago), 2011 
  • "Hearts a Bluhm," outdoor public art exhibit, North Michigan Avenue (Chicago), 2011


  • Best in Show, Art on the Fox Fine Art Festival (June 2018)
  • President's Award, Art on the Fox Fine Art Festival (June 2018)
  • Best in Medium, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair (June 2018)
  • First Place Fine Art, Spring Bloom Fine Arts Festival (March 2018)
  • Judge's Choice Award, Greenwich Village Art Fair (September 2017)
  • Second Place Mixed Media, Crosby Festival of the Arts (June 2017)
  • Best in Medium, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair (June 2017)
  • Best in Show, West End Art Festival La Grange (September 2016)
  • Best in Medium, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair (June 2016)
  • Best in Show, For the Love of Art Elkhart (March 2016) 
  • Outstanding Achievement in Category, Buffalo Grove Art Festival (July 2015)
  • Redhead Design Studio Honorary Award, East Lansing Art Festival (May 2015)
  • Designers Choice Award, American Society of Interior Designers Illinois, One of a Kind Show, Chicago (December 2013)
  • Audience Favorite Award, The Landscape is Changing: Chicago, Framing Mode and Gallery (October 2013)


My work can be found in the following collections:

  • Newberry Library
  • DePaul University
  • Ohio University
  • University of Washington
  • Glessner House Museum
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • UCLA
  • Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation
  • Florida State University