Last August, the city and library coordinated to adopt a Percent For Art ordinance that reserved capital improvements monies for art projects in the major renovation of the library. The City of Lawrence allocated a percentage of the library construction budget for a public art commission. The purpose of the Percent For Art purchase was to commission permanent public artwork to serve as showcase pieces to inspire public imagination in the new building. The artists were selected to create pieces that stretch beyond the traditional interpretation of libraries and speak broadly to our mission to build community, share stories, and instill a love of learning and creative pursuits.
Artists Dierk Van Keppel and John Shreve were selected as the artistic team to develop the artwork. Van Keppel and Shreve work together in an artistic collaboration stationed in Kansas City called Rock Cottage Glassworks. They create custom lighting, public art pieces, vases, and more, combining “the ancient craft of glassblowing with the modern approach of fusing glass.” Each of the art pieces from Rock Cottage Glassworks brings to life the patterns and chaos reflect in the universe.
This month, Shreve shared some updates with us as well as some new sketches of what the art will look like in the new building and where the smaller pieces will be located throughout the building. Their plan is to create one large sculpture hanging above the open stairwell, and distribute smaller pieces throughout the library. These extra glass pieces will create a sort of art scavenger hunt, where children and adults alike will have the opportunity of finding these hidden gems located in ceilings, above bookcases, in the children’s reading cubbies, and more.
We are pleased that the artists are going above and beyond our original request, placing 50 pieces of art throughout the library. We are especially excited about pieces in all of the cubbies in the children’s room, one in the fish tank, and a globe hanging in the northeast corner window where the toddler play area is located. Children in Lawrence will be able to grow up at the library surrounded by books and art, and to us, there is no better education.
The following images show renderings of what the large piece over the stairwell will look like. This is still just a sketch for placement, so the color of the glass is not included. Each piece of glass in the structure will include several colors and patterns of blown glass, similar to Van Keppel and Shreve’s other Rock Cottage Glassworks projects. There are several different vantage points to check out in these images.
Below is the blueprint of the first floor, showing where the extra glass pieces will be located (please note, these blueprints have changed slightly). The bottom floor will also include some of the art pieces. All of the red points are pieces of glass. Notice there are quite a bit in the check out area. These will be in the ceiling, to be viewed from below as you are entering or exiting the main area of the library.