Today we are pleased to feature the St. Ambrose University Library, an academic library that has been nurturing art and art displays for a number of years, and one of our fantastic Twitter community members (follow them @SAULib). The fascinating project discussed here is an example of how a library can serve as an exhibit space without a formal gallery area.

The Art students at the university have several projects throughout the year. Librarian Malavika Shrikhande says that book and aluminum foil creations (including a life size baby elephant and whale) are among the most popular with library patrons.

When displaying their work, students take into account the visibility and balance of the designs and meld them within the library space.

It’s a beauty to watch them. – Malavika Shrikhande

The objective of the 3D willow art project, featured today, was for students to “make a sculptural form from a limited set of materials” with creatures (bugs, birds, animals) as their subject. Students were asked to work to the scale of their subject – to consider the impact of the finished work in terms of size and pose.

Students were working with a limited set of materials, the main being willow that the art class harvested from a nearby marsh. Armature materials should not be obviously present in the completed work, although students were allowed to use cardboard, wood, coat hangers, wire, nails, and chicken wire to support the willow. Surface treatments needed to be natural, to blend with the willow.

The library was the installation space for the students’ work, and the result is strange and beautiful – life-sized fauna suspended and nestled among the book stacks and reading areas.

A special thank you to Malavika Shrikhande for providing text and images for this feature.

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