Artist Talks Hosted by the Free Library's Art Department

By Alina J. RSS Tue, October 1, 2019

Earlier this summer, we kicked off an exciting new series in collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Each Artists in Conversation event brought two artists to the library, where they discussed their work, processes, and influences in public conversations moderated by Philadelphia curator and founder of HAHA Magazine, Ginger Rudolph. Audiences got a chance to see the artists' work and hear them discuss their creative process. Artists were thoughtfully chosen and paired: Oakland painter Muzae Sesay with Philadelphia artist Glossblack, Chicago-based mosaicist Jim Bachor with Philadelphia street artist Hope Hummingbird and Detroit muralist Ouizi with Philadelphia photographer Roxana Azar

The artists and curators worked closely with the librarians in the Art Department here at the library ahead of each event to select materials from our collections to share with the public. We asked them what artists and books they turn to for inspiration and then gathered a large quantity of materials based on those suggestions, taking a close look at their artwork to be able to recommend additional titles. Once in the Art Department spending time looking at the books, periodicals, and ephemera from our research files we assembled, they were pleasantly surprised to discover new visual resources tailored to their interests. Curators Ginger Rudolph and Starfire summed up the experience of bringing public art conversations and the library's Art department really nicely in an article from this summer on the Mural Arts blog.

Each artist's final selection is now available for anyone to peruse with the aid of annotated lists created just for them, available from our Library Community profile page in our catalog. Any Free Library of Philadelphia library card holder can also create lists that are visible to the public in the same way. All they need to do is log in to their account from the top-right of the library website using a library card number and four-digit PIN, then opt for a public profile; users with public profiles can publish lists of items from the library catalog while also having the ability to continue making private lists that only they can see. You can watch a tutorial on our YouTube channel with a more in-depth walkthrough of setting up your own Library Community account.

Once each artist finalized their choice of library books, we brought them to the events, where their audiences were able to browse and borrow from those selections. All conversations were followed by an after-party hosted by Curator of Energy and Creative Expression, Starfire, who selected a different DJ each night. DJ Duiji 13, DJ Particle Ray and DJ Aura each provided music for more conversation between the artists and audiences. We're looking forward to collaborating with Nicole McDonald, the creator of the series, and Mural Arts Philadelphia again next year on another round of great public art conversations. Keep an eye out on the Free Library's Calendar of Events or better yet, stay in touch by signing up for the Art Department monthly newsletter

In the meantime, check out some of the Artist Talks in our ongoing program, spotlighting local artists working in a variety of mediums.

First up, we were recently joined by Jonathan Pinkett on Thursday, September 26. Pinkett studied filmmaking and later painting at the Grand Central Atelier in New York and has worked as a graphic designer. His work can be found in our Print and Picture Collection, as well as many other public and private collections. He was recently selected to be a Barnes Foundation resident artist, at the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes, as part of the Let's Connect project. For his lecture, Pinkett brought a selection of his outstanding oil paintings for the audience to closely examine while he shared some great stories from his long and varied career, along with insights into his working process. 


On Thursday, October 10, in Room 108 on the 1st floor of Parkway Central Library, we'll host Philadelphia printmaker Matthew Colaizzo. We look forward to learning more about his amazing landscape-based work, such as the mountains and dirt piles that recur in many of Colaizzo's drawings and monumental woodcuts, while questioning the distinction between the natural and man-made. Colaizzo trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Tyler School of Art, where he now teaches. His work has been shown in many exhibitions, including the Print and Picture Collection here at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He has also been an artist in residence at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado and Signal Fire Outpost in Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon. He's chosen some very cool selections from our collections to share with his audience that evening. 


And on November 14, in Pepper Hall, home of the Art and Literature Department at Parkway Central Library, we'll be joined by Gail Gaines. An outsize boot-shaped sculpture entitled Every Little Detail, created by Gaines, has been a popular feature of our reading room since it became a permanent fixture nearly a decade ago. The local fashion designer, couturiere, and educator created it for the 160th anniversary of Moore College of Art & Design in 2008, where she studied and now teaches. We'll learn more about this piece and other work by Gaines created in the course of her long career.


All Artist Talks are free and advance registration is recommended.

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