Thursday, 24 November 2016

Artist at Work Program at Kitchener Public Library

This post originally appeared on the LAIP in December 2015.

Today we welcome Stephanie Schmalz from Kitchener Public Library in Kitchener, Ontario, to the site to share some information about the library’s Artist at Work demonstration program. This program, which has been part of the library’s programming collection for fourteen years, is a great example of how to curate and share local knowledge and expertise with your community. Enjoy! ~Laura

by Stephanie Schmalz

KPL promo

Twice a month, you can stop by a Kitchener library location to view hand-crafted art in the making – by watching local artists while they work.

Stained glass artists, cartoonists, spinners and weavers, potters, porcelain plate painters, digital artists –  mediums of all genres, specialized techniques, and simple formats have been demonstrated at Kitchener Public Library for 14 years. Customers are invited to stop by, ask questions about the art medium, learn, and be inspired.

The mandate of Kitchener Public Library’s Artist-at-Work program is to educate the public about a number of art and craft mediums, and to support local artists and hobbyists through drop-by demonstrations in main traffic areas of libraries within the Kitchener Public Library system.

The demonstrations are held on Saturdays from 1 pm – 3 pm. Each artist is scheduled for one demonstration at a branch library and the other at Central Library in the main atrium.

The more obscure the art medium, the better the educational quality.

We’ve hosted everything from new crafts such as advanced Photoshop techniques, to old crafts such as spinning and weaving and everything in between. Artists have brought in spinning wheels, pottery wheels, gem grinding stones, a small printing press, a vintage camera, and any other tool or material essential to their craft.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

Almost anything goes; we only ask that their demonstrations not emit toxic or excessive scents or noise.

We provide a six-foot table and chair for the artist, as well as signs explaining the demonstration for approaching customers. They are invited to bring literature or samples of their work. However, they are advised not to set up their table in a way that emphasizes sales, as it may risk preventing passersby from stopping.

The series was first introduced as an extension of the exhibit space in the Art Gallery at Central. At times, gallery exhibitors also double as Artists-at-Work.

Artists are found through networking, internet searches, and cold calls to artists listed on brochures for art tours or festivals.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

Artists are not paid. As part of this series, they are invited to promote their business/art medium free of charge. During the demonstration, there is an opportunity to interact with a wide variety of potential customers. Artists are encouraged to hand out business cards. Product sales, however, are prohibited and demonstrators may not ask library customers to participate in a sign-up list. Potential buyers may contact the artist directly, following the library program.

All Artist-at-Work demonstrations are publicized in the library’s In Touch magazine (circulation, 8,000), on our website, in full-colour posters, and through our social media network.

A stone-sculptor for Aboriginal History Day, a Chinese brush-painter for Chinese New Year – these specialized crafts often bring awareness not only about the art form, but also about its historical and cultural importance.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

Photo provided by Kitchener Public Library.

This December, the KW Rug Hooking Guild will demonstrate traditional rug hooking, a Canadian cultural activity since the mid-1800s. They will demonstrate how this pioneer craft is used to crate fibre art in the 21st century.

In October, Craig Musselman, an internationally award-winning graphic designer and artist, demonstrated his elaborate digital photomontages using Photoshop by hooking his laptop into an LCD screen behind the Circulation Desk. Library customers could watch as he manipulated images to form a hyper-realistic digital drawing.

In the past, the library has also offered a fair titled ‘For the Love of Art,’ during which a number of artists were invited to demonstrate throughout the day.

We have found this program to be valuable both as an arts education initiative for our customers, and as a support for local artists.

Learn more about the programs that Kitchener Public Library does to support artists and creatives on their website.

from Library as Incubator Project

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