Monthly Gift: THE VALUED VESSEL for Antonia Contro

We are happy to announce


as the recipient of our 

Monthly Gift for May! 


Antonia Contro is a Chicago-based woman

who empowers others through art, education,

organization and conversation.


Antonia is the Executive Director of Marwen,

a free arts institution for Chicago youth,

where she has created and coordinated opportunities

for others over the course of 20 years.


In her dedicated work as both a director and an artist,

Antonia's passionate voice speaks loudly about art and possibility:

where 'what if' dreams are met with belief and hard work.


Antonia takes a warm approach to her occupations,

frequently embracing opportunities to affirm those around her.

Whether the gesture is with a delicate brushstroke

or a screen-saver that reads: work hard, be nice to people,

Antonia's energy is focused on making others feel valued.


For the past month, 

we've responded to Antonia's 

empowering gestures with one of our own:  


We call it


for Antonia Contro.


Antonia writes:

Dolomite, bone, lichen, and tears...

Things that we know by holding them on our tongues and in our hands, as well as by their Latin names, scientific formulations and textbook definitions.

Things that carry the patina of history (gold and marble) and whose rhythmic breath both defy and define time (vellum and turning pages).

What is seen and what is felt.

What stirs me to take a pencil (graphite) to (paper) and unfurl (a line) towards its destination; to turn the page and continue.

I love books.

In this age of immediate and pervasive digital information that we most often engage in isolation, I’m passionate for knowledge that we attain through our senses.

A hand crafted sketchbook embodies sentient form and spirit.

It is a living thing.

And in this beautiful manifestation, its heartbeat is triggered by Matt and the Perch artisans, and gifted to me to nurture and time travel with.



Antonia's description of her ideal notebook being "a living thing"

was an admittedly intimidating request, however,

 this note made it obvious that this object needed to endure time.

 THE VALUED VESSEL is made up of 200 pages of a thick vellum rag paper,

intentionally uncut on the turning edge to ensure that no page-flipping is possible –

instead, each page will possess its own pace and will be turned one by one.


The red thread is sewn in a pattern that has bound the book in a structurally sound way,

but in a design that required delicate attention and a much longer time to complete.


As an object that knows it will have a long history with many transitions,

the red fabric band on the cover acts a subtle reminder of where it once began.


For the sake of knowledge that can be attained and influenced by our senses,

the endpage and first page of this book have been adjoined in a way

that now provides a folder consisting of several vellum sheets

that, once perfumed, the book will open with a scented breath.


It is with great pleasure that we gift

THE VALUED VESSEL for Antonia Contro

as it travels with her in the next chapters

of her important work.


Thank you for inspiring us, Antonia,

we hope you enjoy!