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Manned aircraft transmit their aerial trajectory using a system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), which helps pilots navigate congested airspaces. DJI’s new drone, announced today, now adds an ADS-B receiver to help it know when it is in the path of oncoming planes or helicopters. The drone, called the Matrice 200, […]
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Today we feature VersAnnette Blackman, a visual artist, poet, and facilitator from the Chicago, IL area, who talks with us about her work, her own relationship to libraries, and what it means to show her work in a public library today. Her response to our question, “What does your ideal library look like” is worth a deep reading. ~Laura
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us about yourself and your work.
Verse Blackman (VB): I’m a poet, painter and facilitator. I’ve always been a creative; I wrote my first poem at the age of eleven, and was always making things. I picked up painting again in my late thirties; and was just using it as an outlet for creative expression. I was just intuitively creating things, and wasn’t sure how well they’d be received. The first show I had someone wanted to buy my work. That was nearly three years ago; and my business has been growing ever since. I’m an abstract painter, but my love for both collage and poetry shows up in my work as well. I think this makes me a Mixed media Artist, but I try to avoid labels so I can create freely. I facilitate healing arts workshops, where I invite participants to explore their own innate creativity via painting, writing and demystifying the notion that creativity is only for a certain few.
I’m convinced that Creativity is deep soul work.
LAIP: What’s your relationship been like with libraries?
VB: Libraries are heavenly spaces to me. I was born a book nerd, and I grew up surrounded by books. My mother was a voracious reader and my Dad was big on having me read the dictionary daily. Our house was like a library in its own right. We had everything from Encyclopedias, both World Book and Britannica, Time magazine, Disney classics and Mom’s Danielle Steele novels. I don’t really know how to exist in a space without books, so the library just naturally always felt like home.
LAIP: Have they influenced or inspired your creative work?
VB: Absolutely. My work is inspired by experiences; by words and the vibrancy of visual language. I think of painting as storytelling. Like I get to access these worlds I might not otherwise know about. But also, I notice that any creative space I’ve ever had has to have books. There’s something very comforting and satisfying to me about the aesthetic of books themselves. I am a tactile person; I need to hold a book in my hands, I enjoy seeing all the various colors and sizes in the book shelves. When I visit a library, I’m amazed by just how much the overall atmosphere affects me; the architecture, the vibes from the people, the freedom to open as many books as I want and sit on the floor with stacks until I’ve exhausted myself. I’d like to think this shows up in my work. Most recently, I discovered that I can actually check out books about art! In all my years, I’d never done this before. It’s insane now, I walk away with like 22 books at a time.
LAIP: Tell us about your upcoming show at a public library.
VB: My upcoming show, “In Praise of Spartan Women” is a collection of figurative abstracts painted intuitively on canvas. It’s actually not a collection I planned; these ladies have been showing in my work for over a year now. I decided to gather them and create an exhibit to share because I’m a women’s empowerment junkie. I love being a woman, supporting women, and connecting with women across divides. I’m fortunate in this way; my world is a melting pot and my friends come from all over. I learn a lot, I get to witness the magic in soul stories shared I just believe there’s so much power in our communities! The message is simple: Women are warriors. And we’re often thought of in a way that doesn’t highlight our strength enough. When we hear the term Spartan, there’s this image of men doing battle in movies like 300, or Troy, (or the warriors who fought for ancient Greece, obviously). But I think of the battles we face daily, like fighting to be seen and heard and equally valued in business. The way we raise and educate our children, the way we are hyper-sexualized but rarely respected for what we bring to the table. It drives me nuts. And art is the only way I know how to respond. That’s my contribution.
LAIP: What does it mean for you to show your work in a library?
VB: Well there’s two angles: One as an artist showing her work in a huge library is a big deal. But then, there’s being an artist of color showing her work in a predominately white space. Now that’s HUGE. And I don’t mean this as taking a dig at the library – but it is something I’ve thought about. It’s my reality; and I have to consider whether or not I’ll be accepted. I live in the NW suburbs, outside of Chicago. There’s not a heaping amount of Artists of color, (not that I’m aware of, anyway).The art scene here is different. Lots of nature photography, still life and landscape paintings. I’m excited to exhibit because I think my work offers a different vibe; and I feel honored to share what’s in my soul. My hope is that my exhibit will invite others to think of the library as a safe space for us to connect.
LAIP: As an artist what does your ideal library look like or have in it?
VB: My ideal library has an incredulous amount of diversity. There are people of all races, religions, and ages, and there are programs to honor these differences. There are opportunities for authors and artists like me, who are just hoping to be a part of the conversation and offer some fresh perspectives. There are books that reflect my story, my lineage and ancestry. There is powerful art on the walls that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you question yourself and your thought process. There is community engagement, Artist talks, and a coffee shop would be the cherry on top. But that’s wishful thinking, I know.
Verse is an Artist, Author & Advocate on a mission to empower others to discover their innate creativity via painting and the written word. She is the founder of a nonprofit, HEM (Heal, Empower, Motivate) whose mission is to offer healing to Domestic Violence victims via art projects and creative writing. Her business Soul Revival Healing Arts is where she sells her own art, exhibits, and facilitates workshops and offers poetry readings. She’s passionate about social justice and empowerment, and her work is fueled by a desire for inclusive community engagement. For more you can visit: http://ift.tt/2lJ0YDu
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Today’s feature comes to us from Jeanette Bruce, Program Coordinator at Whistler Public Library in Whistler, British Columbia. Jeanette coordinates a program for the library (in partnership with Simon Fraser University) called SFU Writing Studio’s Writing Consults. These free one-on-one consultations provide local writers with the opportunity to talk with a professional writer about their projects. Enjoy! ~Laura
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please give us an overview of the Writers Consults program–what it is, where it takes place, how patrons hear about it, etc.
Jeanette Bruce from Whistler Public Library (JB): The SFU Writer’s Studio Writing Consults take place at Whistler Public Library once a month. This program is a partnership between SFU’s Writing Studio, a local Writer’s Studio alumna, Stella Harvey, and the library. The idea is that Stella provides 45-minute, one-on-one consultations to local writers who submit up to seven pages of a current project.
Patrons can learn about the Writing Consults in several ways – the program is featured in our monthly newsletter, at whistlerlibrary.ca as well as whistler.ca(the website for the Resort Municipality of Whistler), on various social media platforms, and on posters throughout the community. Word of Mouth has also been a valuable method of promotion!
Students in The Writer’s Studio learn through one-on-one consultations with local writers, so the Writing Consults are like a taste of what a writer would get if they enrolled in The Writer’s Studio.
LAIP: What was the impetus for starting the program? Were community members involved in the planning for this service?
JB: The folks at SFU conceived the idea for this project, and we were lucky enough to have Stella Harvey, an alumna of The Writer’s Studio program and artistic director of the Whistler Writer’s Festival, on board to serve as our local mentor. I believe the original impetus for this program was to raise awareness of The Writer’s Studio program – a flexible, part-time course that writers could complete without leaving their jobs to go back to school. But I think we’d all agree that the program continues to thrive because it provides encouragement to local writers who may be experiencing writer’s block or who just need to talk through their ideas with an experienced author.
LAIP: What has the response been like from the community?
JB: The response has been very positive! We’ve received great feedback from the writers who have completed a consult with Stella, and those who haven’t yet signed up are happy to know that they can sign up if they encounter a stumbling block in their writing. Moving forward, we’ll all be working to get the word out to as many local people as possible – no small feat in a town like Whistler where people are always coming and going!
LAIP: Are there plans to expand the program in the future?
JB: We won’t be expanding the consults program within our library, but the individual writers are given the tools to continue pursuing their projects. Since we began this partnership with Stella and SFU, a couple of our local writers have signed up for the full Writer’s Studio program at SFU – maybe they’ll be mentoring local writers down the road!
LAIP: What are a couple of lessons learned that you can share with our readers?
JB: I think we’ve learned something about human behaviour through this program – much like other goals, people tend to focus more on writing at certain times of year! January and February have been very popular times for these consults (perhaps with a fresh New Year’s resolution in mind?), and the writers in our community also seem re-invigorated after our annual Whistler Writer’s Festival in October.
Another lesson I’ve learned personally is that you never know who will be interested in a program like this. There are patrons at the library with whom I’ve interacted for months and months, never realizing that they were aspiring writers until they sign up for a consult.
Does your library offer a consultation service or other one-on-one help for aspiring writers? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This post originally appeared on the LAIP in February 2016.
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Aileen Bassis (AB): I’ve always made art. I remember fixing up other children’s pictures when I was in kindergarten and pleaded with my mother for extra art lessons when I was in junior high school. I was terribly thrilled to be admitted to the H.S. of Music and Art in NYC (now LaGuardia High School). I studied drawing, painting and printmaking at SUNY at Binghamton, NY and went to Hunter College for an MA in Creative Art.
I was drawn to social and political subjects, beginning with a series about the AIDS virus. I was incorporating text into my collages, which led me to make artists’ books
I became really interested in conceptual art while in graduate school and started to work in 35 mm photography. My husband had a darkroom then and I became involved in printing and doing a lot of print manipulation and photo collage. As time went on, I was drawn to social and political subjects, beginning with a series about the AIDS virus. I was incorporating text into my collages, which led me to make artists’ books, a natural fit for my interest in combining words and image. Around the same time, my art practice expanded into photo-based printmaking like paper lithography, transfer printing and photopolymer etching. I have a large library of my own photos that I use in different combinations to address subjects that have included The Holocaust, racial disparities, muslim identity, immigrants, multiculturalism in Europe, and income inequality.
LAIP: What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
AB: Last fall, I went the Printed Matter Artists Book Fair at MOMA PS1 in NYC. I saw some lovely books printed on risograph machines and heard about a new risograph workshop that was opening up at the School of Visual Arts. I signed up for a workshop there and fell in love with the process and results. I’ve made two books using the risograph, and I’m making another book now that I hope will be completed by June for “Unpacking the 21st Century: Artists Engaging the World,” an exhibition at the Westbeth Gallery in NYC. I curated the show and there are four other artists exhibiting. I’m showing work from a series, “Homilies for the 99%,” combining urban street images with text and images of books by Horatio Alger.
LAIP: How do you see your work interacting with narrative or story? What does working with books allow you to do that you can’t pull off with other media?
AB: I love the time-based aspect of artists’ books, the intrinsically slow reveal that forces the viewer into an experience. You can’t assimilate an artists’ book in a glance. It’s a physical experience, you must turn a page, there’s a before and after, a sense of a beginning and an end. And since books are often small-scale (compared to large paintings or installations) it has a personal aspect and an intrinsic intimacy.
I love the time-based aspect of artists’ books, the intrinsically slow reveal that forces the viewer into an experience.
LAIP: How have libraries informed your creative work? Tell us about the first library you remember playing a part in your artistic development.
AB: I always loved reading — my family didn’t buy books, but I visited our neighborhood library weekly. I remember there was a six-book limit. I went to the Highbridge Library in the Bronx (that building isn’t there anymore) and to get an adult library card, you had to write your full name in script in a big lined ledger. I vividly remember signing my name in it and being thrilled that I was in the grown-up library and no longer with the little kids reading picture books in the children’s room. Being able to check-out big wordy books came in handy when my fourth grade teacher caught me with an open book hidden under my desk. I was reading instead of paying attention in class and she banished (yes, she used the word banished) me from class for a week. I had to sit in the back and couldn’t do anything with the class, just read. I went to the library and took out six books; I was set for the week.
LAIP: Can you describe a particular library-incubated project for us?
AB: In 2008, like many, I was riveted by the presidential election and Obama’s campaign. I was disturbed by the racism that his candidacy revealed. That got me thinking about the insidious legacy of slavery in the United States. I decided to make art on the subject and used the Library of Congress website to research first-person accounts by slaves and people who interacted with slaves. Fragments of these texts appeared in a group of artists’ books, collages and etchings.
LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library be like? What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?
AB: My ideal library would be open from morning into night seven days a week, with lots of comfy chairs and sofas and tables for big art books. There’d be large copiers that could copy pages without damaging the book binding. There would be lots of poetry (I also write poetry) and books in translation (which are sometimes hard to find in my library). I would leaf through art books and read poetry and make notes for myself and perhaps doze in a big armchair. No one would say “Shush!” but everyone would be quiet and no one could use a cell-phone.
My ideal library would be open from morning into night seven days a week, with lots of comfy chairs and sofas and tables for big art books
Aileen Bassis is native of New York City who now lives in New Jersey. She holds a BA in studio art from SUNY Binghamton and an MA in creative art from Hunter College. She has been awarded multiple artist residencies including the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Frans Masereel Center in Belgium and a Dodge fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center. She has received a fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts and a grant from the Puffin Foundation. Widely exhibited in galleries and universities, Bassis has had solo shows at Rutgers University, Moravian College, University of Pennsylvania and Ohio University. Her work is in the collections of Wellesley, Dartmouth and Lafayette Colleges, the Newark Public Library, the NY Public Library, Franklin Furnace, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, St. Stephen Museum, Hungary, and the Nelimarkka Museum, Finland.
Aileen’s art can be viewed at www.aileenbassis.com
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This post was first published on February 19, 2015.
This is a post written by Heather Dickerson, Teen Services Librarian for the Lewis & Clark Library in Helena, Montana. In her series for the LAIP, “Loading the Cannons,” Heather tackles the question “what to do with young adults in a creative writing workshop?” Enjoy! ~ Laura
by Heather Dickerson
I love any opportunity to bring authors to Lewis & Clark Library, especially when they’re open to spending some time with our teen writers. This post explains a visit from Elissa Sussman, author of Stray, and how our teens applied her presentation to their own writing. The basic elements of examining an author’s work plus opportunities to create and collaborate are adaptable to most library situations. The program we did lasted two hours: one hour with Elissa and one hour to write.
Teens in our writing group love creating elaborate worlds with their own very specific rules and ways of being. To encourage and hone their world building skills, we hosted young adult author Elissa Sussman. She shared information about how she was inspired by fairy tales and developed a fantastical world through research and some essential world building questions.
After her talk, my teen writers were ready to write.
I asked twelve teens to brainstorm a possible world scenario. They came up a “third world country where magic is normal and teleportation and alternate realities exist.”
Yeah. THAT! Awesome!
After the initial brainstorm – which took about three minutes – I gave each teen a World Building Question. We had a few duplicates, which was fine. Writers were tasked with answering six essential questions that would inform their world:
I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back…WOW! Teens were chatting up a storm! They created a world on the African continent where different classes of people were born belonging to a certain element (air, water, fire, and earth). Individuals had evil doppelgangers; the world employed tattoos; teens determined a chart that to describe how people were born into factions….the details were incredible!
The coolest part of this exercise was the collaborative creative environment. An individual would offer a suggestion and it received genuine consideration by the rest of the group. Teens left with a list of emails so work could continue!
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Another shit week in the news! Hooray! [wild sarcasm]. On the upside, we have real stories of exciting programs, artists, and collections that are already helping us fulfill our promise to bring you stories about #InclusiveCreativity in 2017. Use them to make your library better– it’s the last truly democratic space, and you can keep it that way.
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