An Installation in the Children's Room of the Northbranch Library

70th Ave. No. and 9th Street, St. Petersburg, FL

Library Piece

This piece celebrates the fact that reading and writing begin in childhood with the mastering of the alphabet. It celebrates the childhood beginnings of some of our favorite authors and serves to collect and present some of the proverbs and homilies that the library patrons proffer as significant in their lives.

The traditional textile sampler inspires the form of this piece. In the past, the sampler project was given to young girls to master the alphabet, learn the basic embroidery stitches, and, in the process, to experience the rewards of their patience and diligence. A proverb/homily was often stitched below the alphabet and the borders were further embellished with fanciful renderings of distant views, domestic scenes, or the portrait of a favorite household pet.

Our sampler uses paint, appliqued metal, rubbings, stamping and other language transfer techniques to present the alphabet and the first ten numerals. These will be at the top of a heavy canvas backdrop. Below this letter and number sampler will be our invented landscape. Here the scene will be of favorite authors as children reading, writing and playing fancifully with books and writing tools. In front and capping the top of this painted, appliqued and embossed canvas will be a ledge/shelf with four or five of these same authors conceived dimensionally as standing rod puppets. Authors we are considering include Alice Walker, Walt Whitman, Enid Bangold, Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Willa Cather, and Lousia May Alcott. A sturdy shelf hung 32" from the floor will contain a large artist-made commonplace book for the ongoing collection of proverbs and homilies written by library users. We also envision this piece accruing the patina of use one finds with any well loved and much used book.

As samplers were traditionally designed and stitched by hand, they reflect the interests, aptitudes and eccentricities of their makers. Hanging across from the computer terminal in the Young Adult section of the library, this tribute to past letter forms and their author users will serve as a lively and colorful reminder of both tradition and change in our living language.


Alphabet Frieze

We also created an Alphabet Frieze that hangs along the top of the back wall of the children's area. The frieze consists of a 35' X 12" strip of painted canvas against which hangs a series of iconic fairy tale silhouettes and letter forms made of wood and metal. Visually and thematically this strip of lively colors and shapes connects this wing of the library with the adjacent adult sections and provides an opportunity for library patrons of all ages to participate with us in the genesis and execution of the work.

closeup women
C for Cockroach
F for Fish
L for Lizard
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© Oiseaux Sisters 2006