Consulting: Art in the stacks at Anoka County Centennial Library
Forecast was hired by the Anoka County Library to curate a selection of artworks—inspired by the categories of the Dewey Decimal system—to be placed in the stacks at the new Centennial Library. Forecast facilitated the RFQ process, selection process, and assisted as a liaison between the Library and the artists.
Formed in 1957, Anoka County Library officially opened for business in 1958. The area was served by what was then called the Southeast Library. The old Centennial Library opened in November of 1985 to rave reviews. It offered listening and viewing stations for video and audio cassettes and phonographs, and a coin-operated typewriter. The reimagined library has spaces for tinkering, learning, and gathering.
The expanded and modernized Centennial Library was designed to put learning on display, as a hub of a campus supporting history, nature, play, and commerce. Imagined as a knowledge park, it is intended as a learning space for community, where creativity and opportunity thrive. The construction plans physically double the size of the library, from 6,000 to 12,000 square feet to accommodate more community meeting and study spaces, increasing comfortable seating for readers, and offering a large and interactive children’s area—all requests from the community.
The Call + Artist Selection
Inspired by artwork on shelves in a library in Uppsala, Sweden, the library sought to purchase artworks to display on the non-fiction shelves. The Selection Committee, a panel of creative professionals, was designated to categorize the artworks by the Dewey Decimal system for placement throughout the shelves. Custom display boxes were fabricated to fit within the shelves. The artwork was requested to create a sense of wonder and curiosity within visitors to the library, inspiring exploration. New or previously created durable and low-maintenance 2D or 3D works, representational or abstract, were eligible.
Forecast is committed to a policy of providing opportunities to people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, veteran status, or physical ability. Artists based in Minnesota age 16 and older were invited to apply.
Selected Artists, their art, and matching Dewey Decimal category
Eight artists were selected and matched with Dewey Decimal System categories. The artworks were installed in spring of 2019 and revealed at the library’s grand reopening event on Saturday, June 28. Artist statements have been lightly edited for clarity.
Amy Baur – Social Sciences
The notion of individual curiosity boxes sprinkled around a Library, inspiring discovery and exploration is a wonderful idea and the minute I saw the Call I wanted to apply. Using the technology of printing with glaze and then firing the glass in a kiln, I can create imagery from basically any digital file; a photograph, a drawing, handwritten text, illustration, etc. The glaze printed imagery fused to the glass is completely permanent and will not fade or affected by UV light. As one peers in and around the vertical glass layers the feeling would be a transformation back into a fantastic curiosity cabinet. The box would feel visually tactile and discoverable. The work would be transformational because, at first, it is hard to decipher if that is an actual object or not.
Laurie Borggreve – Generalities
I am a Minneapolis based artist and sculptor who loves books and has spent many hours in our public libraries. I create delicate, highly detailed installations and artwork with intricate and colorful components. I hope [my library box] will intrigue library patrons with tiny details and my interesting use of materials. I was inspired by the vast array of sea life that exists together in harmony. In a world where people are often divided politically, economically and socially, I hope that this [installation] brings a sense of togetherness and initiates conversation on peaceful coexistence.
Sandra Brick – Arts & Leisure
I have created a representation of coral using glass beads and wood. My reef asks the viewer to see the colors—to really see. My reef asks the viewer to sense the textures. My reef invites the viewer to imagine swimming near the reef and sensing its fragility. One bump can cause harm. One-degree change in temperature will cause harm. And yet, the viewer sees beauty—color, shape, space, texture. Just as, in imagination, one admires the creation of the coral reef, here one admires the craftsmanship of the art. How did the real reef come to be, one coral polyp at a time? That’s natural science! How did the artist create this sculpture, one bead at a time? Art! One piece of art can inspire the viewer to wonder. That initial curiosity about the world that is leads the viewer to reach for a world that can be. The inner light turns on. Imagination! Creativity!
Marjorie Fedyszyn – Philosophy
[The call] to create small works to be placed in the stacks of Centennial Library set my imagination afire. Having taught several children’s classes there in the past, I am familiar with its scenic setting and the wonderfully accommodating librarians there. Working with a wide range of materials rooted in fiber art, I explore through sculpture and installation the internal and external tensions that come from having control or utterly lacking it. The process of felting wool was a bridge from painting to the three-dimensional form. These felted works can be viewed as an abstracted essence of nature, creating fantastic microcosms invoking the sea or forest floor. The folds and crevices, ruffles and spikes form a world for an active imagination to occupy. Inviting and yet slightly unsettling, viewers coming upon these small works can simply wonder at the intimate objects, or question how they were created. The connection to the mental and emotional self activates both me as the creator and the library visitor alike. The human mind guides the conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feelings and thought. These works create an opening for an intimate and personal interpretation for both young and old.
Ryan Pedersen – History & Geography
Sculptors James and Ryan Pedersen are a father/son collaborative team who create welded constructions in relief and freestanding form. The combinations of steel, brass, and copper are used in most designs. The earthy colors and textures are achieved through welding, cutting, grinding and heat-treating these materials. The finished artwork illustrates an artistic combination of these elements with a stylized subject that is related to various interpretations of the modern landscape. For the concept of History & Geography, “Breaking Ground” is made of spring tooth steel, and is based on the repurposing of old tiller tines as a part of past and current regional agriculture practices.
Wayne Potratz – Science & Nature
Books, like works of art, are magical things that allow the mind to travel in space and time. Thus, artworks are a natural fit for a library, which encourages curiosity, knowledge, and creativity. My work in cast metal speaks to the history of the natural world in Minnesota, it’s indigenous history and mythic origins, the beauty and stillness of the wilderness, the manipulation of material to form image, and recording of personal narrative. Thus, these works may stimulate the imagination of library patrons and encourage their interest. The small works submitted were personally cast in bronze or iron using clay as a mold material [a 6,000 year old process which references Western African, Meso-American, and Japanese methodologies] and represent a 50 year quest to understand making, material, and technology. The stones and other materials were collected on my many canoe trips in to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota and in Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. These works model my belief and experience that the hand speaks to the brain in the same way as the brain speaks to the hand.
Karine Rupp-Stanko – Language
My piece features the word “flower” in seven of the most widely spoken languages in the Centennial school district and southeastern Anoka County. That such a diversity of words refers to a “flower” in one small geographical area and that such different writing systems co-exist is truly incredible. Seeing this diversity inside one small box, in one glance, will most certainly create a sense of wonder and will make library visitors curious about their own language and the languages of their neighbors. Sparking curiosity about language inevitably sparks curiosity about other cultures, other places, foreign literature, foreign art… what better inspiration to go explore not only the language shelves but also other sections of the library? My “garden of words” will not only connect people to each other, it will also empower local minority language communities made up of people who do not often see their “minority status” language as an asset. What better way to change this perception than by seeing it in a work of art, in a public space, specifically a repository of knowledge and memory like a library? Each language community, starting with the Dakota Sioux many centuries ago, brought to Anoka County a wealth of names, songs, stories. Successive waves of migrants and settlers then brought and planted the rich seeds of their own language and culture. When I heard of this call for art—specifically, about the opportunity to “illustrate” the language section of the Dewey decimal system—the artist, the educator and the linguist in me lit up with excitement.
Cecilia Schiller – Technology
I believe that experiencing art (in its many forms) improves one’s quality of life; and that art should be integrated in the fabric of everyday living and available to all regardless of social status, income, or other limiting factors. Since 2009 I have been creating interactive, kinetic, gear-driven sculptures (also called automata) that spring to life with the turn of a crank. These machines express in microcosm the interconnectedness of the world (perhaps even the cosmos). I’m especially fascinated by elements of animal and human locomotion; and enjoy using patterns I find in nature (such as plant forms, ripples in water, or bird feathers) as inspiration for my creative imagery. My work is colorful, often whimsical and engaging. “Integration” has a viewing window that exposes interacting gears with imagery that is laser cut and painted on the spokes. As the viewer turns the finger-crank on the outside of the box the gears are engaged and a changing pattern of overlapping gears of varying speeds unfolds before their eyes. I was inspired to create a new type of crank that eliminates the handle and eases tension caused by either pulling or pushing too hard on the handle. This crank has a simple hole where one inserts their finger to gently turn the axle.
Public Art + Libraries
Public art and libraries coexist as players in healthy, vibrant communities. Forecast has worked with several libraries in Hennepin County, and more in Minnesota. We’ve been a part of projects to make a bike rack and interior artwork at Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, for example, and facilitated installation of suspended glass in Ridgedale. After renovation, the Ridgedale library reopened with Bebe Keith’s colorful hanging glass panel design, Compelling the Soul to Look Upward. The finished installation, fabricated by Peters Studio, creates an alternative observatory space. The piece includes twelve panels of glass, featuring colors and patterns of the seasons, each representing a month of the year
Some public art stretches the art and library connection; Katie Paterson’s Future Library (or Framtidsbiblioteket), begun in 2014, is a public art project commissioned by the Bjørvika Utvikling neighborhood in Oslo, Norway. It enlists 100 writers to create manuscripts that will be locked away unread for 100 years, then printed on paper harvested from 1,000 trees that were planted for this purpose. The unpublished texts will be archived in a room within Oslo’s new Deichmanske Public Library. Little Free Libraries are also a growing movement; though not traditionally catalogued, they invite interactive participation and promote access to reading.
Do you need help making a public art project happen? Learn more about our Consulting and Creative Services: www.forecastpublicart.org/consulting