Lending artistic opportunity

Folds and Stiches, detail, sketchbook, 2013

Folds and Stiches, detail, sketchbook, 2013

Get creative with the Dunlop

Article: Laura Billet – Contributor

[dropcaps round=”no”]T[/dropcaps]he Dunlop Art Gallery at the Regina Public Library’s central branch is in its second year of an interactive and exciting art exhibit, the Art Bound Books Project. Inspired by The Sketchbook Library in Brooklyn, New York, the concept is simple, yet intriguing. Participants use their library card to borrow a blank sketchbook from the library, and are then given the freedom to fill it, paint it, mold it, and do whatever they wish to transfigure the book into a work of art.

The books can be cut, have objects of other media added to them, have pages taken out, be made sculptural; they can be filled and reconfigured however the artist desires. The creative options are limited solely by the need for the library bar code to be visible and by a size restriction as they are displayed in a book case. There are some themes that are suggested to encourage some sort of continuity within one book. However, they are not constricting, rather are broadly interpretable themes such as “The Dream Machine,” “Grab Bag,” and “Myself.”

Wendy Peart, Curator of Education and Community Outreach, is excited about the project because of how accessible and unrestrictive the project is. People have total artistic freedom with the books, and anyone with a library card is encouraged to participate. Individuals or groups can create a book, and even classrooms have submitted a collective work.

Peart explains that the goal of the project is to have anybody and everybody participate in making art. Too often, people shrug off their own artistic abilities as not good enough or worthwhile, but Peart hopes to encourage people to partake.

The Art Bound Books Project provides an opportunity for people to explore their own artistic expression. People who would never consider themselves to be an artist have a chance to create a work of art that is respected and on display for the community to appreciate.

The response to the project has been good thus far. The books on display are incredible, and it is encouraging to see the creativity and commitment of the participants. One artist painted every single page and added fold-outs to reveal a thought or quote. The artists have really devoted themselves to the project.

“Sometimes, the things that come in the sketchbook are really personal, based on things that people have gone through in their life,” says Peart.

Participants have one year from the time they sign out the sketchbook to complete it, then must return the transformed book to the gallery where it is catalogued into the library. Once completed and catalogued, the books are not available to be signed out of the library, rather are put on display as part of the Dunlop Art Gallery’s permanent collection. They are shelved in an antique bookcase in the resource centre of the gallery where people are encouraged to come, sit in the comfortable armchairs, and flip through the art books.

The library is the perfect technical resource to help coordinate this type of project as it makes it easily accessible by all. Even if you aren’t in the city and able to drop by the Dunlop Art Gallery, you can email Peart with your library card number and address, and you will be mailed a sketchbook to fill and transform as you please. The project is not even limited to Saskatchewan residents.

“I’ve had people from Alberta [participate]. In special occasions I will send it outside of the province,” says Peart. “We encourage to have people from all over the place to partake in this. We have even had professional artists do it. Some of our exhibiting artists that have come and had their shows in the gallery will leave with a sketchbook.”

The variety of books completed to date is extensive, and Peart is excited to see the project grow as it continues indefinitely.

[button style=”e.g. solid, border” size=”e.g. small, medium, big” link=”” target=””]Image: Gerda Osteneck[/button]

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