This post originally appeared on the LAIP in December 2015.

Today’s feature comes to us from Kristy Bowen, Co-Curator of the Aesthetics of Research project at Columbia College Library in Chicago. We were so excited to hear about this project, which explores the library as an incubator for creativity through exhibitions, events, and other “shenanigans” as Kristy says! Enjoy! ~Laura

by Kristy Bowen

Initiated in early 2014, The Aesthetics of Research, in residence at the Columbia College Chicago Library, is an ongoing series of exhibits, events, and other shenanigans dedicated to exploring the role that libraries play in artistic process, creative community building, and resource-sharing in the arts.

The Aesthetics of Research art vending machine. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

The Aesthetics of Research art vending machine. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

Founded by library Access Department staff members Jennifer Sauzer and Kristy Bowen, both alumni of the college and artists themselves looking for a way to bridge their own artistic practice with their love of libraries, the program has grown from a small rotating gallery-style exhibit of work and artists’ bibliographies  into a multi-platform entity, which includes not only a blog (aestheticsofresearch.com) devoted to exploring the intersections of creativity and research, but also ongoing initiatives in the campus library, including art vending machines, a Zine Exchange and The Library Sketchbook Project, a collection of volumes scattered throughout the library to collect and display student work.

Aesthetics of Research Book Wrecking workshop. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

Aesthetics of Research Book Wrecking workshop. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

This fall, in conjunction with Chicago Artists Month, the Aesthetics of Research sponsored their first annual ARTCACHE event (an art exhibit/scavenger hunt/geocache) hidden in the library and accessible by clues using available online resources.  With the goal of nurturing a creative community anchored in the library, the program has also sponsored a multitude of other campus events, including a week of LGBTQ community-focused programming, a series of informal How-To workshops devoted to art & craft-making, as well as A Little Indie Press Fair, highlighting the diverse wealth of Columbia-related indie publishing–literature, zines, comics, and book arts.   Future plans include a Holiday Artists Tree featuring work from CCC artists, as well as a month long February program celebrating Surrealist Andre Breton’s birthday, with a number of Surrealism inspired creative games and activities scattered throughout the library.

Aesthetics of Research exhibition. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

Aesthetics of Research exhibition. Photo provided by Columbia College Library.

With the recent addition of another Access staff member to the team, Joy Thornton, whose specialty is music, they are also looking toward opportunities to add musical and performance oriented programming to the roster in the coming year, as well as foster relationships with faculty for collaborative initiatives reinforcing the campus library as a creative and generative space.

 

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