A new leaf: UVA law library takes a bookish approach to art

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McGuffey artists upcycle outdated books from UVA’s Arthur J. Morris Law Library in a collaborative show titled “Discarded." Photo: Courtesy the artist McGuffey artists upcycle outdated books from UVA’s Arthur J. Morris Law Library in a collaborative show titled “Discarded.” Photo: Courtesy the artist

As the school year gets underway, a group of artists from the McGuffey Art Center is hitting the books. Or rather, they’re cutting, sewing, painting and otherwise transforming books as part of a new exhibition at UVA’s Arthur J. Morris Law Library. Titled “Discarded,” the show draws its name quite literally from a common medium: discarded library books. You see, unlike other libraries, the law library regularly updates its collection with new editions as the laws and regulations in those books change over time.

The event has become an annual tradition for the library, as it seeks to “enrich the experience of our law school community and to give artists an additional venue for their creative productions,” according to law library director Taylor Fitchett.

Since launching in 1999, the library’s annual art opening has had various local connections. “We have drawn from the brilliant pool of creativity at McGuffey on numerous occasions, but for this show we are using the women of McGuffey exclusively,” says Fitchett.

One of these women is L. Michelle Geiger, an organizer of and contributor to the show. “As an artist I have spent a lot of time with paper, as a printmaker, collecting and making books,” she says. “This is really one of the first times that I have gone beyond the folded page and made a much larger, sculptural piece.”

Artists have freedom in how they approach their individual contributions. “Each artist was given a book—or many books in the case of some—and the only instructions were to use the book in some way,” says Geiger. “Ninni Baeckstrom encased one in cement; Eileen French has drawn the book flying toward the viewer; I deconstructed the books and made kinetic sculptures of seaweed and dipped smaller pieces of paper in wax to make barnacles. There was no wrong answer.”

“Discarded” features work by Baeckstrom, French, Fenella Belle, Cynthia Burke, Nina Burke, Brielle DuFlon, Stacey Evans, Judy McLeod, Janet Grahame Nault, Susan Northington, Kelly Doyle Oakes and Jeannine Barton Regan.

Many of these artists have worked in mixed media before and the attention given to the written word in the exhibit is interesting.

“I used a thick volume of Crimes and Punishment to make both of the pieces—not the novel but a textbook of [court] cases and verdicts,” says DuFlon. To assemble one of her pieces, titled “Bedtime Reading/Rest Assured,” she layered and coated pages of the book to create a paper-based fabric that she could sew into a pillowcase. Through pattern cutting, stitching and edging, she created the illusion of a lace-edged pillowcase using only paper. The art is assembled with a pillow stuffed inside and at first glance looks almost inviting.

“The idea behind this pillow was to create something that one could rest one’s head on, but after reading the literature that the pillowcase was made of, one wouldn’t want to,” DuFlon says. “I chose some truly disturbing and relevant cases to create this pillow… I’m interested in the way that we live with the awareness of what is happening around us. Some of us feel safe with the knowledge of a law enforcement system, others of us don’t. There are fair and unfair trials. All of these issues are enough to lose sleep over.“

An opening reception for “Discarded” will be held on September 3 at 5pm and will feature a live performance art piece by Anne Megibow. The exhibition will remain on display throughout the academic year and is open to the public during the library’s regular hours.

Ix Art Park sets the stage

This fall, the Ix Art Park will host an expanded schedule of community events thanks to a partnership with WTJU 91.1FM. Together, the two organizations teamed up to participate in the Levitt AMP Music Series. Organized by Levitt Pavilions, the music series was created in 2014 as a way to present free concerts for small and midsize towns around the country. It builds on the Signature Levitt Program, which does the same in large cities.

“It was just such a perfect fit for WTJU’s mission to bring people together through music, as well as the Ix Art Park’s mission to engage in creative placemaking,” says WTJU general manager Nathan Moore. We got together and put in an application.”

An online voting process then confirmed Charlottesville as one of 10 host cities, each of which receive funding to present 10 community concerts in 2015. “The community needs more opportunities to mingle, meet, break bread, dance and let go,” says Ix Art Park’s Brian Wimer. “It’s free. And everyone’s invited. We’ll have country, folk, funk, Latin (from Mexico to Brazil), jazz, marching band and even klezmer—plus, of course, lots of that indie rock which makes up Charlottesville’s strong music scene.”

To this end, some of the events in the series will be partnerships with local groups including The Bridge PAI, Tom Tom Founders Festival and Cville Sabroso. The list of performers includes plenty of local favorites like Lester Seal, John D’earth, Pantherburn, the (All New) Acorn Sisters and the Sally Rose Band. You can also expect to hear many of the performers from the series on WTJU, giving on-air interviews or in-studio performances to help get the word out.

The first of these Charlottesville concerts takes place on September 5 with Nashville musician and cartoonist Guy Gilchrist. “Getting him was a minor miracle,” says Wimer. Charlottesville’s own Red & The Romantics open. The free Levitt AMP Charlottesville Music Series continues through November 6.

What other types of art events does Charlottesville need?

Tell us in the comments below.