Art, Literacy, Community.

Little Library Originals: Art, Literacy, Community
4731 Gallery, Grand River Creative Corridor, Detroit, Michigan
Aug. 27, 2014

The growing take a book, leave a book movement collided with the art, literacy and community leaders in Detroit during a recent gallery opening to showcase 14 Little Free Libraries transformed by artists.

The show featured artists from across the metropolitan Detroit area, with many using acrylic to paint snakes, race cars, mermaids, city scapes and more onto the libraries.

Some artists took retired newspaper bins and transformed them with metal, paint, words and symbols.

“Knowledge, wisdom, understanding lead to freedom, justice, equality so you can find food, clothing, shelter and have love, peace and happiness,” Plymouth street artist Eno Laget said in his statement about the library he called 12 Jewelz.

One artist, Andy Krieger, built a library completely from scratch, adorning it with grass, wildflowers and a hand-carved plow horse.

“The mission, idea, and implementation behind Little Libraries is brilliant, straightforward and simple,” Krieger said. “This was a very easy cause to get behind.”

Other artists agreed.

“I hope that by placing more and more of out little libraries around the city this will promote literacy in the our neighborhoods,” said Beebop Artist Kelly O’Hara, who painted “City at Sunset.” “In a world where kids are stuck to TV screens and phones, I think its more important than ever before to promote reading and using your imagination.”

Besides Laget, Krieger and O’Hara, other artists who participated included Mary Fortuna, John Sauve, Debora Grace, Mitchell Schorr, Rashaun Rucker, Fatima Sow, Loretta Bradfield, Jesse Kassel, Ndubisi Okoye, Barbara Barefield and Pam Shapiro.

The exhibition, Little Library Originals, was held in conjunction with a visit from Todd Bol, founder of the global Little Free Library movement, now 30,000 strong. He stopped in Detroit and four other cities on his way to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. While here, he recognized Detroit as the fastest growing city of Little Free Libraries, now nearing 100.

“We’re visiting important cities that have helped build the Little Free Library movement,” said Bol. “Along the way we hope to inspire others to build literacy-friendly neighborhoods of their own.”

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