Thursday, January 19, 2006

Confessions of a Bookworm

I have made it my mission in life to update the mixed media art section of my local library. When I first got involved in altered art, I thought I would simply go down to the library and take out a bunch of books and learn something. NOPE! My library (and others in the lower mainland) had an archaic collection of books from the 1970's with crafty stuff in chintz and florals. Most of the projects involved glue guns, woggley eyes and glitter. There were books on painting, books on collage but nothing where medias were combined and all of it was tacky. TACKY I tell ya!

So, I started to buy myself books to create my own altered art/mixed media library and as I found books that I really liked-ones that taught me alot and I felt were well worth the money, I would go down the the library and request they purchase them. At my library, that involves talking to the person at the reference desk and asking them to fill out a request. The library (like all public resources) has limited funds and so I was always told as I submitted a book title for purchase that there were no guarantees. Well guess what? Not once has one of my requests been denied. Every single book I have asked for has shown up! And so slowly, book by book, I have quietly been building up the resources for mixed media artists in my area.

I tell you this for a couple of reasons. First of all, if there is an area you are interested in and your library doesn't have anything current or helpful in that area, do a little research through Amazon and find out what's out there. Once you have some titles to work with, ASK your library if they would bring them in. I would recommend only asking for 1 or 2 at a time and then wait to see if they purchase them. If they do, then ask for a couple more.

Secondly, the library is a public resource. It's funded by your tax dollars and therefore, you have a right and a responsibility to help decide how those dollars are spent. Have you ever given any thought to WHO decides what books to purchase? Why can't it be you? As an artist, I think it's important to make sure that if someone was interested in Altered/Mixed Media art they could find books on that subject. If I don't suggest them, then who will?

Third, I think it's important to support those artist who are working hard to provide resource materials to the rest of us by writing books. Do you have any idea the amount of time and energy that goes into a book? When I made art to be included in a couple of books, it took a whole year from the time I was approached, then made the art, submitted it, had it sent to the publisher, had it photographed and then waited to see it in the book. (And that was just my small part in it! The author had the hard part!) I want to support these people because they are paving the way for others to discover the joy of creating.

So think about it. Lynn Perrella's Alphabetica has just arrived at my library, joining several other titles I had a hand in choosing. I smile when I see all of them on the shelf. Happy reading!

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