Client: City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs / Los Angeles Public Library
Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States
Completion date: 2009
Artwork budget: $30,000
Public Art Agent
Arts Manager, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs
Senior Librarian, Fairfax Branch Public Library
(98” x 310″ overall / Digital prints on vinyl)
For the Los Angeles Fairfax Branch Library, I combined cosmology, geometry, basketry and storytelling with Native American motifs and American Sign Language in two thematically related murals. The Young Adult mural features a spider web design with the phrase “you are the thread” that extends along a narrow, dark, closet-like wall. My first response to visiting the artwork’s proposed location was, “Looks like a place where you’d find spider webs!” Aha!
Web spokes mimic the ceiling beams overhead. The imagery humorously alludes to the space’s use for accessing the World Wide Web. The web design follows the proportions of the Golden or Fibonacci Spiral. The golden ratio pattern is found in most forms of nature, as in the cross section of a nautilus shell. The bold graphic design and understated text are interwoven to inspire young adults to actively engage in their growth and discovery. At the heart of our democracy, libraries serve the general public with a treasure-trove of information and inspiration, and act as catalysts for the self-pursuit of knowledge and global understanding. The metaphor of the labyrinth serves to honor that mission.
Researching the physical space and interviewing Roy Stone, the Senior Librarian, to learn about his issues, audience and community’s opposition to a recent library renovation proposal were central to creating my art concepts. The L.A. Cultural Affairs and Public Library staff who composed the art committee encouraged my research into local Native American motifs. The final mural proposals were presented separately to members of both the Public Library and City of L.A. as well as the Friends of the Fairfax Library. Stone commented that the resulting artworks resonated so well that they appeared to have been created at the library’s inception.
As a father to a young child, I strongly value and make weekly use of my local public library. These places of civic communal interaction are ideal locations for engaging public art.