Today’s feature comes to us from Lisa Fuller, Director of Community Engagement for the Worthington Libraries in Worthington, Ohio. Lisa shares a recent (and under way) public sculpting project that has been the catalyst for a new suite of creativity-focused programs at the library. Enjoy! ~Laura

by Lisa Fuller

Earlier this year, the Friends Foundation of Worthington Libraries, affiliated with Worthington Libraries in Worthington, Ohio, commissioned a public art project with sculptor Mike Tizzano. The goal was to create a unique piece of art that would embody the spirit of the public library as a place of learning, community and fun.

In the last two iterations of its summer reading program, the Library used cartoon-like illustrations of a fox, owl and raccoon in the program graphics. The community response to the characters, appearing the first year as super heroes and the next as adventurous campers, was overwhelming. They were even given names by a fourth grade class (Asparagus the fox, Winston the owl, and Ricky the raccoon) and became the library’s unofficial mascots, joining staff on parades and adorning t-shirts, temporary tattoos and sew-on patches. During the initial brainstorming sessions with Mike Tizzano, library staff presented the idea of using the characters in the sculpture with a more realistic portrayal similar to the art of Beatrix Potter.

Asparagus, Winston, and Ricky prepare for the 2017 Summer Reading Club at Worthington Libraries.

Tizzano created a maquette of the piece, called Reading with Friends, and featuring a raccoon, fox and owl sharing a book. This was approved for larger scale production and the artist began work in the lobby of Old Worthington Library on March 13. He will spend 15 hours per week through October carving the sculpture and fielding questions from library patrons until it heads to a foundry in fall. It will be installed outside the Library in April 2018.

Worthington Libraries is planning a series of public programs for all ages to coincide with the public art project. These include sculpture programs, open studio time for families and outreach programs in partnership with the local parks department. The library’s 2017 summer reading club will also be art-based and features the three familiar characters of Asparagus, Winston and Ricky as famous artists. It’s the library’s hope that this project and its complementary programming, will inspire people to explore their own creativity and that the sculpture will be enjoyed by the community for generations.

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