Today I’m pleased to welcome artist Patricia Dahlman to the Library as Incubator Project. Patricia is the creator of a new site-specific sculpture that is on exhibit at the Mid-Manhattan Library in New York City. Today she tells us a bit about her relationship to libraries, especially the art book collections that inspired Big Open Book. Enjoy! ~ Laura

Patricia Dahlman is an artist that lives in the New York City area. She works with fabric and thread to make both two dimensional and three dimensional art work. Her website is

"Big Open Book" sculpture by Patricia Dahlman, on view at Mid Manhattan Public Library.

“Big Open Book” sculpture by Patricia Dahlman, on view at Mid Manhattan Public Library.

Big Open Book is a site-specific art work made by the artist Patricia Dahlman. It is a sculpture of an art history book and is made from canvas, fabric, ribbon, thread, wire, and stuffing. The sculpture contains reproductions of the painting Just in Time by Elizabeth Murray and the painting Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso. Big Open Book was created in appreciation of public art libraries and of two very influential artists. The exhibition is also a celebration of the beauty and vitality of Artists’ Books on a large scale.
Visit the exhibition page on the NYPL website to learn more.

Writes Patricia,

My intimate relationship to libraries goes back to when I was in college. I went to college in Dayton, Ohio and had wonderful teachers but there was not a lot of actual art to see. I basically lived in the library looking at reproductions in art books, trying to figure out what to do in art as well as how to be an artist. After college I moved to the New York City area and looked around for a good circulating art book library. I found the downtown Newark Public Library in Newark, New Jersey to be the best circulating library in the area. There were wonderful small scale exhibitions there as well made from actual art from the Newark Library Art Collections. I also learned that libraries have archives on artists. The art librarian at Newark Public Library, William Dane showed me archives on the artist and writer Anne Ryan. I had no idea Anne Ryan was a writer as well as an artist.

I recently made a large site-specific sewn sculpture, “Big Open Book” for an exhibition at Art Wall on Third at the Mid-Manhattan Library in New York City. I was asked by the curator of Art Wall on Third, Arezoo Moseni to make a large sewn book for this space. “Big Open Book” is a sculpture of a book about art history. The open book depicts two artists’ works, Elizabeth Murray’s “Just In Time” and Pablo Picasso’s “Weeping Woman.” I have spent many hours researching, looking and now copying Murray’s and Picasso’s work and they both have had a big impact on my own work.

My ideal library would be two different libraries. One library would be what Newark Public Library was like back in the 1970’s. Newark Public Library had a wonderful large sunlit room full of windows that was just for books on art and music. It was never crowded back then and had a fantastic circulating art book collection with an incredible art librarian, William Dane. The other ideal library would be the direction the Mid-Manhattan Library in New York City is taking. Art work is exhibited in different places within the library. There is something wonderful to see actual art work there as well as books. What an inspiration.

Patricia Dahlman at work on a sculpture.

Patricia Dahlman at work on a sculpture.

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