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Libraries, Gardens, Working Together, Oh My!

September 5, 2010

As the first artist in the Showing Up, Speaking Out series, Inge Hoonte has teamed up with community members to make art about recreation. More specifically, over the past few days, she has been working with young Winnipeggers at Art City (616 Broadway) to explore the nature of public libraries, which quickly grew to include an interest in public gardens, as well.

Recreation, for the Art City kids, involved places where people can play and learn together in ways guided by their own interests and imagination. The project of creating a public library within Art City was initiated on September 1. Inge and Matt will also blog about this as well, so I’d like to quickly mention something I noticed through the course of the first evening and subsequent days.

In a world full of technological entertainments, it was no surprise that kids sometimes described their interaction with books as a secondary option when video games or television weren’t available. However, after a very short period of time reading together in groups, and making books in creative formats and with personalized narratives, it was quite exciting to hear the occasional small voice say: “let’s go read a book in the library” and even more start recalling details about their favourite books/type of books.  Analogue never goes out of style! Sometimes quiet space and time for looking, reading, and thinking is satisfying. The kids also enjoyed writing a book collaboratively, and sharing with one another the books that they had created for the library.

The wide range of books brought into Art City by staff and volunteers as the base upon which to grow the new public library covered many topics and genres from biology oriented books about lizards and fish to art books exploring historical paintings. Of course, there was also tons of children’s literature – Shel Silverstein appears to have gained a new set of fans!

Something Art City participants found cool about public libraries is that they offer so many books about all kinds of different topics to explore. The idea of sharing books with other people so as many people as possible can enjoy each given book was also of interest.

Since public libraries are public spaces to be enjoyed by everyone, Art City participants were keen to include a public garden as part of their library. The benefit of this meant that it would be even more fun to read books outside, or even to just spend more time together outside doing other things.

Inge was at Art City on Sept 1, 2, and 3. Today – Sept 5 – she will work with other community members to explore recreation, but in a spontaneous fashion based on the interests of the various participants. The subject of recreation is quite large. Public libraries and public gardens is surely part of the broader theme, but it also includes organized sports and fitness facilities, community learning opportunities, and other types of social spaces for people of all ages. The main thing about municipal recreation is that it’s based around sharing resources to create affordable opportunities for everyone.

Join us today at aceartinc. (2nd Floor – 290 McDermot Ave.) from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. if you’d like to get involved in this discussion which will begin in the gallery then move outdoors in the form of an artistic intervention. What will we talk about? What will we agree to make? Where will be go outside to present or perform our idea? We have no idea until we meet up and work together.

Inge will return to Art City to continue workshops about public libraries and other aspects of the subject of recreation on Monday September 6 and Tuesday September 7 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. each night. Art City is for everyone of all ages, so please feel free to join us there, as well =-)

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