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Public Art Tour | Cambridge Arts Council
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"Front Desk"

Ryerson, Mitch

Porter Square, Sculpture


Boudreau Library


Title: 
Front Desk
Date: 1988
Materials: Wood: Birch, cherry, and maple 
Dimensions: 10' x 10' 
Location: 245 Concord Ave
 
 

Seeing and experiencing

Mitch Ryerson's colorful, bold sculpture serves as the circulation desk and card catalog for the Boudreau Library. It is the first thing you see when you walk in the door, and it dominates the space.
 

What kind of atmosphere does the sculpture create? Does it conform to your notion of what libraries are like?
 

On the front of the desk, Ryerson has carved a multi-layered panel showing a shelf of books, a cityscape and a night sky. Describe the books on the panel. What do their colors suggest? What connection do you see between the books and the buildings? Why do you think the artist has chosen to depict a night sky?
 

Imagine you are a librarian. What would it be like to work behind this desk?
 

Usually we are not allowed to touch art, but this sculpture is a working piece of furniture. Do you feel the way about Front Desk that you'd normally feel about sculpture? Do you view it differently than an ordinary desk?
 

Ryerson has said, "I want people to approach my work. I want them to take the feelings out of the piece that I put in. My artwork isn't about heavy existential crises--it's about feeling good, about experiencing pleasure." What emotions does Ryerson's piece evoke for you?
Onsite

Ask the librarian if you can stand in the middle of the piece. Does being inside change your experience of the piece?

Hand-on
Drawing
What you will need: 
Sketchbook, pens or pencils.

Pretend this sculpture has magical powers. Every time you check out a book, you are transported to another place. Where do you end up? What happens there? Draw this place.

collage

What you will need: 
A book that you can transform (a discarded library book, a used paperback, etc.), pens, pencils, paints, old magazines, glue, scissors.

Using an array of materials, make your book into a collage about your love of reading. Draw on the pages. Cut up the pages or glue whole sections together. Paste in images and shapes. Let your imagination go.three-dementional
What you will need: 
a bunch of books

Gather a bunch of books (phone books, art books, old paperbacks, etc.) and create a sculpture. If you have enough, construct a house and sit inside. What is it like in there?