Between bookshelves and among a sea of monitors, Boston College’s faithful library staff works without end to ensure these temples of academia remain open. The noble staff, however, consists of more than keepers of books and codices—many also possess a certain regard for the arts. In this year’s Celebrating Creativity of BC’s Library Staff exhibit, photographs, paintings, and digital crafts convey these employees’ passion, and attest to the eclectic tastes and abilities among these unsung heroes of BC’s day-to-day workers.
Several photos by Katherine Fox, the head of public services and user engagement at the John J. Burns Library, highlight the aesthetic beauty of repetitive architectural elements. “Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco” (2008) looks out to the street from the entrance of the building. The photo shows the regular arches adorning the ceiling separated by gaps of natural lighting. Fox captures the inside length graciously by placing the outside circular seal at the bottom of the image allowing the eye to follow it as its curvature matches the shape of the arches growing in relative perspective.
Another image by Fox, “Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia, Canada” (2008), finds viewers inside a lighthouse gazing through the bulb and surrounding glass. The filaments of the immense bulb align with the horizon, illustrating the compelling idea of light beckoning those on the farthest reaches of the sea. The rest of the image is bathed in the blue of both the sky and ocean, contrasting the dark greys of the interior beacon housing.
The quaint cotton floss on cotton cloth work of Barbara Mento, a librarian in O’Neill Library, conveys an immediate warm feeling for which the medium allows. “Stegosaurus” (2000) is simply fun. The image of the ancient beast translates handedly into the old timey cloth weaving, evoking notions of a cave drawing, simply, and yet beautifully, depicting the creature. The “Baby Announcement” (2017) documents familial history in a more personalized way. Complete with a myriad of small sea creatures, shells, and a lighthouse, in addition to the important date, the cloth image serves as a record and piece of art in its own right.
The vibrant digital work of Chris HP, a web designer for O’Neill, is among the most eye catching in the exhibit. “DTS” (2017) shows two men from the hip-hop duo Darktime Sunshine, standing atop a pink plant relatively unenthused as the cosmos spin around them as the words “Darktime Sunshine” sit ominously overhead. The piece looks as though it could come out of a title card sequence for the group or even an album cover. This kind of work exemplifies the ability in the modern world for fans to creatively interact with those they follow.
HP’s other work, titled “Dudes in Hats,” uses four colors and four quadrants to depict four dudes in four unique hats. Among those ‘dudes’ are J. Edgar Hoover joylessly wearing a propellor hat and a bemused Edgar Allen Poe sporting Mickey Mouse ear hat. Though the inspiration behind such re-imaginings may be unclear the overall feel of the piece is comic and gravitational in terms of visual appeal.
The nature photography of Shelly Barber, a reference specialist in Burns’s archives department, captures pieces of the fiery autumn landscapes. The aptly titled “Ephemeral Pool I” shows a shallow pool of water filled with a colorful collage of leaves. In the reflection of the pool, the barren trees extend, lonely and leafless, into the thickly clouded air.
“Marsh” (2014), also by Barber, reaches across the reflective landscape of a swamp, showing changing trees mirrored in the sky and water. At first glance, the swathes of colors look like those of a painting, as they extend majestically, like the strokes of a brush across the image.
The Celebrating Creativity exhibit touches on the abilities of our precious library staff, and also points to the broader, more expansive abilities of the greater BC community. When not sifting through tomes of text or mentally cataloguing information, the loosing of creative energies can be just as rewarding and therapeutic as all those hours of study in our favorite library.
Featured Image By Lizzy Barrett / Height Editor