AFO students design Cabell bookshelves

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Puffenberger.

Sarah King
Contributing Writer

If you have visited Cabell library lately, you may have noticed some bookshelves that appear to be a little more spruced up than usual. That’s because each floor of the library has its own specialty shelves created by Art Foundation students.

The library’s newest art installation is the work of five AFO students taking a class called Space Research taught by Suzanne Seesman. The students had three weeks to design and build bookshelves at least partially made of wood that included their research, artistic interests, and had more than one function.

The exhibit went on display Nov. 5 and will be removed on Dec. 5. VCU Libraries spokesperson Sue Robinson said the shelves will provide busy students a much-needed break from stressful studies.

“Displaying art in our very busy building offers our users—who come here to study, work and research—an opportunity to see something new and wonderful that might delight, inspire or educate them,” Robinson said in an email.

Farrah El Sharif, whose bookshelf is displayed on the third floor, said the hardest part of the process was starting the wood cutting at the workshop, but that everything went smoothly afterward.

“I wanted to do something that can help the students take breaks between their study sessions and enjoy being at the library,” El Sharif said.

Just as the purpose and inspiration of each piece differed, so did the difficulties that students faced in putting together the project.

“I used all kinds of saws and drills in the wood shop, which was something new for me, but also something I really enjoyed. The paintings on the shelf are inspired by impressionism and the idea of growth,” said Brett Alvis, whose cylindrical cushioned shelf on the third floor opens into halves with paintings on the inside. Alvis’ piece is untitled.

Other pieces include a shelf titled “A and B” with a seat cushion and electrical lighting on the first floor by Bethany Allen, and a shelf that resembles a tree branch with six holding compartments on the fourth floor by Jacqueline Javier titled “The Growth.”

“It was painful with the tools I had to use, pushing against the wood, and very time consuming, but I am very pleased with how it turned out,” said Jonah Hacinas whose piece on the fourth floor was inspired by American-style tattoo art and is titled “All American.” “It was very frustrating and stressful, but strangely, I loved it.”

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