ANN ARBORâ€”Many hands may make light workâ€”and they can also make great work.
Over the course of the last year, more than a hundred community members in southeast Michigan worked to co-create 10 large-scale paintingsâ€”all drawing inspiration from collection materials at the University of Michigan Library.
The project, led by Detroit-based artist and U-M alumnus Doug Jones, will culminate in an exhibition titled â€œConnect the Dots: Collective Interpretations of the U-M Library Collections.â€� It opens Monday, Oct. 7, at the Hatcher Graduate Library, 913 South University Ave. An opening reception, free to the public, is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. in the Hatcher Gallery.
â€œConnect the Dotsâ€� consisted of creation sessions for community members from Detroit to Ann Arbor, where Jones walked participants through a process he has dubbed the â€œPixel Techniqueâ€�â€”a dot-by-dot process akin to pointillism, where an image is broken down into individual pixels and painted one-by-one. The process allows for anyone, regardless of familiarity with any particular painting technique, to participate in the creation of the work.
â€œThe end result of this project is multifaceted,â€� said James Hilton, dean of libraries. â€œStudents and community members were able to enjoy the benefit of creating in a communal fashion.
â€œWe are able to draw on our collection for a unique and different purpose outside of academic research and we are left with artwork for our library created by our community.â€�
The idea for a community-based art project originated with U-M librarian Emily Puckett Rodgers.
â€œThis project is explicitly driven by our value of diversity, and this is one way that we can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for our campus to enjoyâ€”by featuring artworks that were literally created by our students, faculty and staff from across campus and the region,â€� Rodgers said.
â€œPeople have been surprised and inspired by the subject matter, and itâ€™s been a great way to introduce people to the depth and breadth of our work and to the different subject areas we cover.â€�
Jones worked with students and staff on campus during small work sessions; he also worked with community members at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and held sessions at U-Mâ€™s Detroit Center.
â€œWith â€˜Connect the Dots,â€™ I learned that students, faculty, and staff found my Pixel Technique relaxing during otherwise stressful and competitive days,â€� he said. â€œI also learned so much about the University of Michigan Libraryâ€”past, present and futureâ€”and I learned so much about so many of the people who work as its stewards.â€�
In the end, the community helped create 10 pieces of art that represent a wide variety of ideas and subject matter:
The works, which measure 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide, will be on view Oct. 4 in the Hatcher Gallery and will be permanently installed throughout library buildings following the opening reception.
Written by Alan PiÃ±on