Community Art in the Library
El Dia de los Muertos will be celebrated in our little branch library with an invitation to the community to participate in an art project. All the supplies will be out to make paper Sugar Skulls. We hope that our patrons will leave their artwork for the month - but we recognize that sometimes they want to take their masterpiece home. It's all good.
My colleague Joe and I made the sugar skulls in the photo and we cut out about 40 plain skulls from paper plates. We'll let everyone go to town with the markers. The display area is set up with the title : Mexican Sugar Skulls to honor El Dia de los Muertos
Over the past few years we have done a number of community art projects. We've discovered that our families enjoy being part of the art on the walls of their library. Moms, Dads, grandparents, teens, tweens, little ones - all particpate - we include everyone. It's not the product - it's the belonging and the process of creating something bigger.
This past July we asked our community members to color a firefly...they were shy at first and then...wow! So this was day one:
Be a Reading Bug and Light the Night
And here we are at the end of the week. Colors!
This project was tremendous fun and we kept it on display through September. Senior citizens loved coloring a firefly or a flower and shared stories of their youth - who knew? Accidental engagement ...or the power of art. Loved it! This piece is 30"x 40"
We did another Community Art Project to remember 9/11.
I asked the staff to paint sheets of medium weight watercolor paper on both sides. They did this over two days. I explained to them what we were working on and everyone wanted to paint. Honestly, it makes you feel good to know that we are doing something meaningful. I located a butterfly template on-line and with the help of our teen volunteers - we traced lots of butterflies. Library patrons were invited to cut out a butterfly of their choice fold the wings up and glue the butterfly wherever they wanted on our foam-core board.
Many little ones brought their butterflies home and a number of families took photos of their children standing with this piece of art.
Something like this...it does a heart good.
One holiday season we decorated our very large tree - a live tree, (not a Christmas tree) inside the library with pre-cut card stock birds. Our patrons were encouraged to color the birds, thread a ribbon through them and hang them on the tree. Take a look:
They did it.
This was another "feel good" project. And many birds with home with their artists.
When we do these projects I always invite the staff to participate first. Our circulation staff is great - they will then follow through with the patrons inquiring if they would like to color a bird for our Peace Tree. One of my colleagues likes to take birds, butterflies, flowers, etc; home for her grandchildren to make - we build connections - in and out of the building.
I'm not sure what the holiday project will be this year but I do know one project we'll do in the new year.
Inspired by Eleanor Estes' book, A Hundred Dresses, we shall invite our patrons to make dresses. Sort of Origami, paper folding dresses with embellishments.
Here's dress #1 ...only 99 more to go!
I think I see a clothesline with those tiny decorative clothespins holding up the dresses. Maybe I should invite libraries across the country to contribute little paper dresses in February. Hmm, I'm going to think about this. We could have hundreds of dresses!
Over the summer we made these beautiful flower vases in one of our kids' programs. I did not have enough materials to offer it to the entire community but I did offer it to the staff. Yennesse took her's home to create and totally rocked it. Just look at it!
Let me say, when you are in the middle of Summer Reading and your staff is working "all out" ... Art Therapy is a nice change of pace. Providing all the materials in one place where they can work on their own masterpiece and complete it - well, it's priceless!
The biggest reward in all of this is ownership and pride in your very own library. It's your space patron people - and this, these community art projects, are but one small part of the maker space movement in libraries across the country.
We love comments and questions. Talk to us! Thanks for reading. ~ jane