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Ninth Art@625 Exhibit Showcases Staff Creativity

Information and Technical Services team builds community.

 

June 25, 2013—At 625 Massachusetts Avenue, which houses many staff members in Harvard Library’s Information and Technical Services (ITS), lunchtime is an opportunity to slip away from work and take just a few steps to an art museum. Staff discuss the pieces that fill the walls of the room, brightening the space and showcasing the—otherwise hidden—artistic abilities of many of the people who work in ITS.

“One reason I chose to participate is that it truly does build community to see your colleagues’ work and to showcase your own,” said Page Nelson. “So often we get defined by our jobs and titles, and we start to identify with those roles as well. Having the opportunity to exhibit artwork—something entirely different from what we do behind our desks—helps us realize that we are working with full people with unique interests, desires and perspectives.”

The show was organized by Murray Barsky, Sandy Wamsley and Delana Hirschy. Barsky noted, “These presentations are largely self-sustaining, as one or another of us is motivated to move from observer to creator. In one case, a poem—later published—that we had up in one exhibit drew explicit inspiration from an earlier staff work. And it’s gladdening to consider that this has become one of the ways we work together.”

This exhibit showcases pieces by Sean Crawford, Candice Feldt, Delana Hirschy, Jay MacIntyre and Page Nelson. June Rutkowski also installed a bonsai tree just outside the entrance to the exhibit area.

MacIntyre said he would not have considered showcasing his photographs, but Wamsley saw them on social media and “gently coaxed” him to print out a few for the show. MacIntyre has been taking photographs—mainly of natural scenery in Cambridge and Cape Cod—for only two years, but he was amenable to participating, in part, because of the effect he had noticed previous shows have had on the 625 community. “I noticed how beautiful the artwork makes the room, and it always gives us something to talk about,” he said.

Nelson’s unique and vibrant paintings on small squares came from an unlikely series of events, spawning from his self-proclaimed thrift. “I buy all of my clothes from a warehouse-type store, and last Christmas they offered free shipping for any purchase over $100. I was $20 off and didn’t want any more clothes, so I threw in a paint set. I had never painted anything before, but I started dabbling in it.” Now Nelson is a prolific and avid painter—motivated partially by a desire to participate in the regular exhibits.

Crawford contributed pages from his play that was performed in May as part of the annual Boston Theater Marathon. “My involvement in Art@625 stems from me saying to Murray: ‘So I wrote this play that’s being produced. Does that count as art?’ He said ‘Yes, yes it does.’ So we set to work on getting an excerpt on the wall.” Crawford added: “This is a diverse workplace, full of adults leading wonderfully imperfect, complex lives. I think the exhibit captures that well.” 

Hirschy—a third-time presenter at the exhibit—created art using recycled book jackets, echoing her interest in the department’s “Green Team.” “I didn’t feel I had to make the art; the book jackets suggested it themselves,” Hirschy said. “I enjoyed working in this medium much more than I thought I would. I look forward to generating something for the next art show.”

Besides paint and photographs, other media include pottery and of course the bonsai, a living sculpture. With the exception of the day before a new exhibit is revealed, the staff room walls are never bare.

“We so appreciate that [Barsky] and [Wamsley] work to put this together,” Nelson said. “We know it’s tough work, but it definitely makes a difference.”