Between the Stacks

A hand reaches for a book. The book is added to a pile. Piles build on tables, next to armchairs, moved one by one to places where they can be opened up; leafed through.   For a moment, when resting upon each other, these collections of printed materials embody a kind of new disjointed ideation; the restructuring of which is limitless.

Shelving carts wheel between the sections: fiction, non-fiction, reference, large print. Arms outstretch to replenish the content on the shelves. Books scuff and slide across their metal surfaces, organized by subject, author and code.

Before I saw an empty library, I didn’t stop to consider much beyond the ease in which I could spend a quiet afternoon reading or research a question to my heart’s content.

It took bare shelves for me to see the bookends.

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empty.mcpl

In November of 2011, I toured the former Madison Central Public Library building, stripped of books and most of it’s furniture. The library was preparing for demolition with a two-year reconstruction project starting that spring.  I was one of hundreds of artists responding to a call. The city was hosting a one-night art-based fundraiser before the building was torn down. My tour guide was Trent Miller. The event would be called Bookless.

I had no way of knowing that my accepted proposal would lead to the best large scale installation experience I have ever had. The two weeks building up to the event spent with library staff and fellow artists bolstered my hopes of what the purpose of art can be.  To read more that experience, click here.

booklessposter

Following Bookless, the city of Madison purchased two of my pieces: Daily Exchange (a portrait of the state capitol exhibited in the show) and Arch (a wall-hanging sculptural installation made out of bookends).  Over the next two years I worked with Trent Miller and city architect Bryan Cooper to situate the bookend installation in the new library.  One logistical hurtles we faced was building a reinforced wall to support the steel weight of the bookends. Another had to do with the shape of the piece itself.  Due to the available walls in the new building I redesigned the piece. To read more about that process, click here.

NEW ART FOR A NEW LIBRARY-

I installed my latest body of artwork into the new Madison Central Public Library this summer. The bookend is central to all of the pieces in this series.  Each artwork explores the bookend as an object to be stacked, reimagined and reinterpreted. Their colors and shapes speak to the evolving nature of spaces like libraries, designed to serve the changing needs of the general public-and in small ways, doing so in style. When put side by side they reveal portraits of both place and time. While bookends have helped organize  libraries for as long as they’ve been lending books, this series also points to their decreasing presence on the shelves. As the MCPL joins the growing number of beautiful, state-of-the-art public libraries it has embraced the demand for digital technology, which has reduced the number of actual books are onsite. Shelving has evolved into docking ports, a level of on-site stacks has turned into a large children’s area with a maker’s space.  The bookend is in many ways, symbolic of a new history being written today about the future physical landscape of public space.

STACKED

"Stacked" photo credit: Eric Baillies

“Stacked” Bookends from the former Madison Central Public Library
photo credit: Eric Bailles

photo credit: eric baillies

photo credit: Eric Bailles

photo credit: eric baillies

photo credit: Eric Bailles

Below is a slideshow detailing the process of making Stacked. The slideshow can be paused and forwarded at your convenience by clicking on the selection keys at the bottom of the screen.

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CORRIDORS

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“Beige/Turquoise” from the “Corridor” series
Limited edition photographic print

While I was preparing the bookends for sculptural installation in early 2012, I realized that when grouped, the objects lent themselves beautiful images of abstraction.  This discovery began a two-year pursuit of photographically documenting the bookend in large format.  The Corridor series records bookends in four specific ways: in groups, in stacks, as tunnels, and from the top down.

Below is a slideshow detailing the process of making of the Corridor photographic series as well as finished images included in it. The slideshow can be paused and forwarded at your convenience by clicking on the selection keys at the bottom of the screen.

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With the sale of any photo in this series, I will make a donation of 10% of all proceeds to local library of purchaser’s choice.

PILLAR

pillarweb

“Pillar” Bookends from Madison Central Public Library
photo credit: Eric Bailles

Pillar is the most recent piece I’ve finished from during this period of working with bookends.  Each layer of the sculpture is supported by a laser cut steel ring.  It measures eight feet in height and will be on display during the one night exhibition Stacked on September 19th.

Below is a slideshow detailing the process of making of Pillar. The slideshow can be paused and forwarded at your convenience by clicking on the selection keys at the bottom of the screen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With the sale of Pillar, I will make a donation of 10% of all proceeds to local library of purchaser’s choice.

CHECK IT OUT- MADISON CENTRAL PUBLIC LIBRARY

stacked

To see more images of the new library click here.