New Public Artwork By Colette Fu Unveiled During Grand Opening Of Reimagined Spaces At The Parkway Central Library
The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy's Percent for Art Program and the Free Library of Philadelphia are pleased to celebrate the completion of Commemorating the Stacks, a new site-specific public artwork at the Parkway Central Library by Philadelphia-based artist Colette Fu.
The unveiling will coincide with the Free Library of Philadelphia's grand public opening of reimagined spaces in the Parkway Central Library on Friday, April 12. The opening of the new public space is the culmination of a multi-year $35.8 million modernization and renovation project.
"This is our first Percent for Art unveiling of 2019, which is the 60th anniversary year of the Percent for Art Program - the first in the nation," said Margot Berg, Public Art Director. "It is appropriate that this extraordinary new public artwork is installed at the Free Library of Philadelphia - an institution that has served so many Philadelphians in our neighborhoods for over 100 years."
'Commemorating the Stacks' at the Parkway Central Library. Courtesy of Colette Fu. The new site-specific artwork consists of eight tunnel books-three-dimensional acrylic works inspired by traditional paper tunnel books-an historical accordion-like book form, consisting of parallel layers of cut paper that create a multi-dimensional scene when viewed from the front. The work spans two new spaces in the Parkway Central Library-The Robert and Eileen Kennedy Heim Center for Civic and Cultural Engagement and the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC). Ms. Fu's installations consist of laser-cut frosted acrylic layers that create a complex and playful design mimicking paper. On the face of each of the tunnel books is a frame constructed using fragments of the library's original metal shelving system.
Commemorating the Stacks pays homage to the six-level historic book shelving and storage system that was removed to allow for Parkway Central's newest public spaces. Photographs taken by Ms. Fu of these closed stacks inspired the artwork's imagery. With a complex retrieval system and capacity to house more than one million books, the stacks served as the central hub for all of the neighborhood libraries until the Free Library chose to reduce their footprint by moving books offsite and installing new compact shelving in the renovated space for the books' return. They are fondly remembered through Ms. Fu's artwork, which is prominently featured in the 41,000-square-foot space that has been opened for new public and staff areas.
For Ms. Fu, the work is three-fold: "My hope is to first, emphasize that there is a line of continuity in the book form as it moves from more historic book forms, including movable books, to modern day tablets, cellphones, and e-readers. Second, I want to give visibility to the field of book arts, and to show that a book can possess interesting qualities beyond its text, specifically through printing methods, paper choice, and the binding. Lastly, I want to commemorate the book, the library, the artist book, Philadelphia, and most of all the stacks that were permanently removed from the library."
This Percent for Art opportunity was nationally announced as an open Call to Artists in June 2016 to artists and artist teams. Out of the 112 applicants, five finalists were selected to present proposals. The selection panel consisted of: Blake Bradford, Director and Professor, Lincoln-Barnes Museum Studies Program at Lincoln University; Laura Deutch, Artist and Director of Education & Production, PhillyCAM; and Theresa Rose, Artist and Professor, Moore College of Art. The Advisory Panel consisted of representatives from: Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Safdie Architects, Kelly/Maiello Architects, and Sally Malenka, conservator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The selection panel unanimously selected Ms. Fu's proposal.
About the Artist
Colette Fu is a Philadelphia-based artist whose work is widely exhibited and collected. She received her Master of Fine Art from the Rochester Institute of Technology. National collections include the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the West Collection. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship to China, as well as numerous grants, including among others: the Independence Foundation, the Leeway Foundation, En Foco, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Center for Emerging Visual Artists, New York Foundation for the Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Puffin Foundation, and Society for Photographic Education.
About the Percent for Art Program
Enacted in 1959, the Percent for Art ordinance requires that one percent of the total dollar amount of any construction project that includes City funds be devoted to the commissioning of site-specific public art. The first of its kind in the nation, the program has commissioned over 300 works of art. The intent of the Percent for Art Ordinance is to enhance the City's public environment by incorporating exceptional site-specific works of art.
About City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy's (OACCE) mission is to support and promote arts, culture, and the creative industries; and to develop partnerships and coordinate efforts that weave arts, culture, and creativity into the economic and social fabric of the city of Philadelphia.
The OACCE manages and oversees City arts programs, provides services to artists and arts organizations and serves as the primary point of municipal contact for local organizations, businesses, artists and creative entrepreneurs. As Philadelphia's local arts agency, the OACCE works in cooperation with the Mayor, City Council, and other City offices to make Philadelphia a great place to live, work and visit.
About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 28,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach. With more than 5 million in-person visits and 5 million more online annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.