March 26, 2015

Library Board commissions public art for renovated Main Library

COLUMBUS—Columbus Metropolitan Library’s (CML) Board of Trustees today unanimously approved a contract with artist Virginia Overton to commission a sculptural installation for display in the renovated Main Library. The commission will run from April 2015 through December 2016.

In October 2014, CML’s art consultant, Lisa Kurzner, under the guidance of its art committee – Tom Katzenmeyer (Greater Columbus Arts Council), Nannette Maciejunes (Columbus Museum of Art) and Rebecca Ibel (Pizzuti Galleries) – solicited proposals from several artists. Following careful review of the various proposals, the committee unanimously and enthusiastically selected Overton’s proposal for the commission.

Overton’s concept intertwines the history of the library with that of the city, its citizens and the materials of urban infrastructure. Among her ideas is to create a work that expresses the relationship of Main Library to its branch locations, using overlapping maps of the branches and the footprint of Main Library. The installation may combine three-dimensional monumental sculpture and floor mosaic works in various sites in central pathways of the building.

A major aspect of Overton’s artistic practice is her reliance on salvaged materials, both natural and manmade. Much of the salvage will come from the renovation of Main Library itself, including metals, glass and even wood from the pine trees removed from the east façade. CML plans to engage the services of local craftsmen and craftswomen to fabricate materials for the pieces.

For the sculpture proposal, there is significant research still to be done. Overton has been in close contact with Main Library architects GUND Partnership and Schooley Caldwell Associates in order to ensure that the concepts are well coordinated with the overall design.

CML has an historic commitment to public art that goes back to the opening of the Carnegie Library in 1907 when what-would-become the Columbus Museum of Art opened as part of the original library. During the renovation in 1990, CML commissioned two significant art works as part of its public art statement: the Aminah Robinson murals on the atrium stairwells and the hanging Vanitas sculpture by Todd Slaughter. Both works will be on display when Main Library reopens in 2016.

Virginia Overton was born and raised in the Nashville area, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. She took her MFA at the University of Memphis under the guidance of Greeley Myatt. Her work has been featured in several museum and gallery exhibitions internationally, including Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis, Storm King, The High Line, Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster, Kunsthalle Bern, and MOCA Miami. She is represented by Mitchell Innes-Nash, New York and White Cube, London, one of the premier galleries in Europe. Visit her website for more information.

CML understands that great libraries create stronger communities, and each branch is an essential hub that reflects the unique needs of the neighborhood it serves. Some of CML’s 22 locations are 40 to 50 years old and inadequate to meet the demands of a growing 21st century community. Demands and expectations will continue to grow, along with the population of Franklin County.

CML’s aspirational building program is the result of a community-wide process that will continue to serve the needs of Franklin County well into the future. The plan is a multi-phased comprehensive blueprint that reinvents and revitalizes the entire 600,000 square feet maintained by the library

In addition to being a vital community asset, Columbus Metropolitan Library strives to minimize its environmental footprint. With each new building or renovation project, CML plans to use sustainable building materials, incorporate glass for natural light to reduce energy costs and introduce other design and building elements friendly to the natural environment.

Phase one of CML’s aspirational building program is transforming and significantly upgrading seven urban branches (Driving Park, Whitehall, Parsons, Martin Luther King, Northside, Northern Lights, Shepard) and two suburban branches (Hilliard and Dublin). In addition, changes to Main Library represent a major investment in downtown Columbus and the Discovery District.

Visit columbuslibrary.org for more information and to track progress of CML’s ambitious building program.

Columbus Metropolitan Library has served the people of Franklin County, Ohio since 1873. With its Main Library and 22 branches, CML is well known for signature services and programs like Homework Help Centers, Reading Buddies, Summer Reading Club and Ready for Kindergarten. The library’s Strategic Plan supports the vision of “a thriving community where wisdom prevails,” which positions CML to respond to areas of urgent need: kids unprepared for kindergarten, third grade reading proficiency, high school graduation, college readiness and employment resources.

CML was named a 2011 National Medal Winner by the Institute for Museum and Library Services for work in community service, the highest honor for libraries and museums. Columbus Metropolitan Library has been rated a 5-Star Library by Library Journal for seven of the eight years the magazine has published its industry ratings.

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