The Lawrenceville neighborhood has long been a haven for artists of all kinds. You can look to the popular Art All Night event and the 12 years running Lawrenceville Artists’ Studio Tour for evidence of that fact.
A few months ago, Genevieve Barbee-Turner, one of the artists who calls Lawrenceville home, approached us with an idea – what if the library acted as a space for artists to work together and learn from one another? She had been attending our monthly late night work space program, Work Nights, and gained inspiration from her experience there. In her words,
I had been attending Work Nights and found them really productive and a pleasant shakeup from my normal routine. I work from home normally and just don’t really fit in at a traditional co-working space. The library is comfortable and stuffed with endless resources while also serving as a nexus point for people in the neighborhood. Since Work Nights were only once a month, I hoped to establish a regular routine for myself and hoped that maybe there were other people like me that might want to join in. One day I posted to Instagram that I’d be sketching with my iPad at the library and three people who followed me came by and hung out—one of whom had an iPad and was looking for some perspective on where to get started making with it. We shared notes and it was really spectacular.
Many artists may be unsure as to how to transfer their work into the digital realm, where technology not only enables new techniques but allows creatives to share their work with a wider audience. Now, artists can attend The Windmill: An Artist’s Mobile Studio for Pros and Hobbyists of All Skill Levels at CLP – Lawrenceville to learn from others, especially how to make that digital leap.
The Windmill is a weekly, drop in space that encourages constant iteration and creative sustainability through connection to others. As Genevieve hopes,
I’d love for The Windmill to exist as a regular drop-in / hangout for creative introverts to get in some productive social time. This sounds simple but getting out of my own comfort zone is super challenging while juggling a million things. In the past year, I’ve moved to a mobile digital workflow and it feels good to be able to pick up and work where ever I like. That being said, this technology is always changing and I learn a lot by simply catching someone up and chatting. I also learned about the resources that the library has (lynda.com being one of the big ones) and, while I can take advantage of them at home, it keeps me more accountable to come in and make a regular thing of it. Plus, answering other people’s questions helps me learn and challenges what I do know about digital illustration.
So far we’ve gotten really fantastic feedback. We have designers, illustrators, hobbyists and professionals who all drop-in and noodle on things from websites and portfolios to playing with a sketchpad. My favorite bit of feedback from a few people is that The Windmill allows them to carve out time they don’t make for themselves to get things done. I blocked out three hours because that’s a normal studio time at university and it really is a manageable amount of time to accomplish things.
Hosting an innovative community-based illustrator like Genevieve and supporting her work in bringing creative people together is an exciting way for us to achieve our mission to engage our community in literacy and learning, something we have a long history of doing at CLP.
As one CLP librarian wrote in the 1942 Annual Report, “Books play an important role in the lives of thinking people at any time, but in times of stress and strain, when everyone is occupied … learning new lines of work or brushing up forgotten skills …. to read blue prints, to build houses, to learn to weld, and to paint murals. They turn voluntarily to books to help them solve problems …” (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 1942.)
While books are still necessary and well-loved in today’s world, technology is the ever-increasingly critical tool in pursuits related to literacy and learning. Luckily, the values we hold at CLP — Community, Learning, Access, and People — are also tools that we can leverage in working to ensure our patrons have what they need to succeed in this digital environment. As Genevieve says, “I can’t wait to see what else comes of The Windmill . . . It will yield something from whatever it’s given, so as long as people keep coming, the possibilities are endless.”
Create every Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at CLP – LawrencevilleDrop in and Draw!