by Bryan Voell

Pique Gallery, an “open ended art experiment” located in Covington, Kentucky, recently exhibited work created by librarians that focused on the intersections between art, creativity, information and libraries. We spoke with Pique co-manager Annie Brown about the ideas and questions that helped shape this exhibit.

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): What was the inspiration behind featuring libraries and librarians in this art exhibit?

Annie Brown (AB): In the information age, libraries and librarians are more important than ever to our society, given that they are purveyors of reliable information. I don’t think the general public is even aware of their importance, especially in our current political climate, or what a crucial role librarians fill. I wanted to highlight that importance by turning a light on the inner thoughts of our librarians. This show shatters the myth of the little old lady shushing patrons, rather it shows that librarians are intensely creative and thoughtful individuals who are not afraid to speak out about things that matter.

LAIP: How long had this idea been brewing and what was the response to your call for work?

AB: I have been thinking about librarians as artists for a long time, but once we decided to have a show featuring librarians it happened quickly, in about 2 months’ time. Of the artists we reached out to, most of them are in the show. They were enthusiastic about a show featuring librarians as artists.

LAIP: What do you see as the role of libraries in promoting or cultivating art and creativity?

AB: Librarians by their nature are curious seekers of truth and knowledge. That is the role that art also plays in any culture. We don’t normally think of librarians as creative forces, but they are intensely creative.

LAIP: What do you see as the intersection between visual art and intellectual freedom? What do the pieces in this exhibition say about this intersection?

AB: I believe that art exists for three reasons: to help us grow, to push our boundaries, and to save us from despair. And it all starts with a question. “Why do we act this way? What would happen if…?” Intellectual freedom introduces us to new ideas and allows us the opportunity to bump up against them, art allows us to explore them in the context of our current belief system. And that slowly but surely introduces new ideas and new ways of thinking to our society.

Every single piece in this exhibit is a solid example of this. Each piece is a personal expression for each artist, and as librarians, it is obvious that there are deep and sometimes hidden meanings in the art. Look closely and you will find a hidden gem here, or a new way to look at an otherwise common object there.

LAIP: Talk about your favorite piece(s) in this exhibit.

AB: I like discovering new aspects of a piece the more I look at it. So my favorites tend to be little vignettes from various pieces. A forgotten book in a forest (Julia Skinner), mirrors arranged throughout the space (Steve Kemple), a red watercolor pencil floating in a bucket of water (Ann Schoenenberger).

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