Courtney Bowles, co-creator of The People’s Paper Co-op, has spent years using art as a vehicle for connecting diverse and often alienated communities.

Courtney Bowles is an artist, educator, and community organizer from Richmond, VA.  Before co-founding the People’s Paper Co-op, she co-founded the People’s Library in February of 2013, which has brought hundreds of individuals together to transform discarded materials into blank books for anyone in the city to fill with their histories and be included in the permanent collection of the Richmond Public Library.  Courtney’s work and research focuses on the minutia, the discarded, and material culture in an effort to understand how the past has influenced our present.  In addition to writing and presenting at a multitude of conferences, she has co-produced two films, The Builder and New Jerusalem, and released 4 albums on Jagjaguwar with the band Spokane.

Courtney explains, “Throughout the project, our roles as artists are closer to those of cultural organizers. While traditional means of self and collective expression are being produced (through images, writing, multi-media), the project reveals a diverse array of visuals, perspectives, and visions for ways forward, and becomes a vehicle for bringing communities together to foster empathy and understanding.”