There is a growing tension between information technology – tablets, smartphones, laptops, and e-readers – and the traditional form of information: the book. Yet despite many alternative options, the book still has a powerful physicality. READ ME is a community engaged mural project that demonstrates the wonder of books and encourages individuals to touch, share, and be inspired by them. For the mural design, Border Free Bees and chART Public Art member Ashley Guindon proposed a playful collage of natural elements, mythical creatures, and far-off places, all presented in silhouettes of eye-catching colours. The conglomeration of unexpected images mimics the unpredictable, organic, and exciting act of browsing library shelves and discovering more than one could have anticipated.
Guindon engaged the community in the making of the mural, organizing a drawing activity for participants to sketch visual elements from their favourite books; a teens-only scavenger hunt in the library during off-hours; and a suggestion box in the library where patrons could offer ideas for book titles to be included in the mural.
The process of painting the mural took five days to prepare between September 28th and October 2nd. During this time, Guindon and artist assistant Jaymie Johnson completed the top portion of the mural. The team also brought in a public art class from Emily Carr University of Art + Design to help with preparations, chatting with approximately 300 passersby, telling them about the project and inviting them to the weekend painting party.
Over the month of October, Guindon added the 170 book titles with call numbers as suggested by library users. You can see the finished mural at the Vancouver Public Library Richard Marpole Branch, 8386 Granville Street, in South Vancouver.
Artist Bio: Ashley Guindon is an creative practitioner who works as an artist, teacher, and project manager. Her practice explores social rituals through interdisciplinary methods and collaborative means. Guindon has a BFA from Western University and an MAA from Emily Carr University. She lives and works in Vancouver.
Project Partners: This project is a community partnership between Ashley Guindon, Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, the Marpole BIA, the Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver’s Graffiti Management Program, and chART: Public Art Marpole. The project was funded by the Marpole BIA and a Neighbourhood Matching Fund Grant through the Vancouver Parks Board.