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Working the Willard with fibre artist, Chandra Rice

Maybe it happened while you were browsing Central’s Express collection. Or walking upstairs to the 3rd floor, or through the Great Hall or the main foyer. If you've visited Central branch since May, you may have unexpectedly encountered a selection of fibre art pieces on the walls, on top of shelves, or peeking out from Ideaworks Studio signage.

chandra rice and fibre worksThe art is the work of Chandra Rice, BPL’s Visiting Artist in Residence, on loan from the Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB). Chandra was the successful candidate of AGB’s John Willard Residency in Fibre Arts in September 2016. As part of her creative journey that culminates in a solo exhibit at the AGB in November 2017, Chandra was invited to use the library loom during her production period.

As Chandra explains, she was eager to take up the library’s offer. “I saw this as an opportunity to test out installation ideas for my art, and to see how the public responds to my work.”

And that’s how Rice’s project, Working the Willard: A View into One Artist’s Process of Creating Work for Exhibition, May 4 to July 24, came into being.

Typical of most artists and makers, Rice primarily creates artwork that is intended for sale at a gallery or exhibit and destined for display in a purchaser’s personal space. Creating art in—and for—the library’s public areas, opened up new possibilities for her work. The library’s vast interior spaces inspired Rice to create fibre works that are more sculptural than her earlier pieces.

“The challenge was to create works that occupy space in different ways, that interact with large public spaces, and invite people to engage.”

As well as motivating her to explore the relationship between her work and the use of space, creating at the library allowed her first-hand exposure to a public audience during the production process. For Rice, art production is usually a solitary process in her home studio, and her making experience at the library was anything but that.

Rice was excited by the public’s response to her art. “People wanted to touch and take part in the art as I created it,” she notes. “It was gratifying to provide an accidental interaction with art for people who might not be exposed to it every day.”

Working the Willard wraps up on Mon July 24. Chandra will be at Central branch on Sat July 15, 1-3pm, to talk about and tour her work during a public reception.

More about Chandra