‘Winter Light’ art exhibit at Whately Library

  • One of the pieces of art from Conway resident Sheryl Jaffe that is part of the “Winter Light” art exhibit at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whately. Submitted Photo

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

WHATELY — As libraries continue to reinvent themselves to address their changing role, S. White Dickinson Memorial Library’s new director Candace Bradbury-Carlin has been working on a first for the historic building.

The library is currently hosting its first ever art exhibit, Bradbury-Carlin said, after consulting the Whatley Historical Society.

“The library is becoming one-stop shopping place, community hub,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “You have very individual, quiet activities, but you also come together with other people.”

The art exhibit, “Winter Light,” will run through March 24. It showcases the work of Ludlow-based, and former Conway resident Sheryl Jaffe, who contributed handmade paper scrolls, prints, sculpture and lanterns.

Held in the basement space of the library, Bradbury-Carlin has been turning the space into what is being called “The Muse,” a multi-use cafe space. It’s a place for speakers, meetings, occasional pop-up cafes and now, for the first time the building’s history, an art exhibit.

“The library has become much more multi-faceted, which I think is amazing,” Bradbury-Carlin said.

There have been several contributing reasons to what has led to this moment as the first time the library is holding an art exhibit, the director explained.

The library historically was a quiet space, and still is to some extent, but with people coming to the library for different reasons today, and accessing information in different means, it has led to a library that can handle other activities, like an art exhibition.

Further, there was a practical element to what made it challenging for an art exhibit to be held in the library. The walls in the basement space are concrete. Typically plastered walls make for a better space to hang art on.

Bradbury-Carlin is cautious to hang any framed art on the historic walls for fear of damaging them. That’s what makes this exhibit, with Jaffe’s light-in-weight artwork feasible to exhibit. She hopes though that fellow artists in the community can help her brainstorm ways to hang art in the space without damaging the walls.

And for many years, the historical society was also housed in the library, limiting the practical ability to hold an art exhibit in the space. Additionally, when the library became a part of a regional consortium, it freed up space.

“The library has come a long way, the shape of the building, the collection of what we have, everything else we offer, as well as programs,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “This was one of those things that was on a list but never made it to the top of the list.”

An artist herself and someone who has long been a patron and a fan of the public library, Bradbury-Carlin sees the marriage of these two as a natural fit.

“A lot of people who want to pursue art, either they dont have the time or materials but I feel like having a workshop or exhibit at a library … there’s something about a library that is very comforting,” Bradbury-Carlin said.

The director hopes future art exhibits will be on the way, particularly with local artists showcasing their work, and hopefully this can lead to a regular schedule of art on display in a space that is quickly transforming the way people think about their local library.

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Joshua Solomon at: