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Public Art Tour | Cambridge Arts Council
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"Front Desk"

Ryerson, Mitch

Porter Square, Sculpture

245 Concord Ave

Cambridge, MA 02139

Location Description: Boudreau Library, card catalog and main circulation desk

Date: 1988

Materials: Birch, cherry and maple wood

Dimensions: 10' x 10'

The sculptural desk made of birch, cherry, and maple wood and painted in vibrant colors, serves as the library's card catalog and main circulation desk. The front of the desk is decorated with a carved panel that depicts neighborhood buildings, including St. Peter's Church and the Harvard Observatory. A prime example of art-furniture, the desk helps shape the character of the library, while serving both decorative and functional purposes.

Ryerson says that furniture appeals to him because the viewer can interact with it. His work invites a connection that is often hard to obtain with other fine arts, such as sculpture. He feels the intimacy and casualness of his work make it less intimidating to people. "I want people to be able to approach my work," he says. "My artwork isn't about heavy existential crises - it's about feeling good, about experiencing pleasure."

Ryerson has operated Ryerson Studios located in Cambridge for many years, making custom furniture sold through galleries and on a commission basis. Originally a boat builder in Maine, he shifted into furniture because, as he says, it gave him a "freedom of expression." In 1998 he received the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts artist award. The society is the oldest nonprofit craft organization in America and awarded Ryerson the prize for "showing mastery in his medium by creating original and creative contemporary crafts."