Coates Library offers numerous resources to Trinity’s campus, but books and other print sources aren’t the only types of media that wait to be explored as you walk in. With many of works of art located on each floor, it can seem like there’s a feast for the eyes laying around every corner.
Library staff has acquired multiple art pieces to put on display around the building, including works by students, alumni and other artists. According to head of Instruction Services Benjamin Harris, much of the library’s collection has either been donated by benefactors, such as Jim Dicke, or obtained through its student art purchase program.
Harris emphasized the sheer amount of knowledge there is to discover about the library’s collection.
“I’m amazed at how each individual piece has its own story and its own history,” Harris said. “We walk past sculptures and paintings all the time that we either don’t know anything about or don’t think to pay attention to. … It’s great to take the opportunity to pay attention to those pieces and the histories that they carry.”
Library reference assistant Erika James has looked into much of the art that’s cycled through the library over the years. One painting on the third floor by abstract expressionist artist Francisco Sainz, also known as Paco, titled “The Cowboy,” always catches her eye. She was particularly fascinated to examine the life of the artist.
“He just seemed like a really crazy kind of interesting, fun guy. [The painting is] a little unusual, and everybody’s like, ‘I hate that, It’s horrible,’ but I’m like, ‘No, it’s bright and colorful!’ ” James said. “It’s [interesting] when you look into the people who made it.”
It’s certain that, as far as art collections go, there’s a diversity of works to be found on each floor of the building. One such collection by alum Katy Freeman ’17 focuses in on the use of technology in our society.
While smartphones could often be a distraction to the diligent student camped out in the library the night before an exam, this series of five paintings featuring the devices might come as a welcome sight to those who pass by while browsing the second floor.
Each painting in this series features a different member of Freeman’s family, including herself and her brother Max Freeman, who is currently a senior, holding up a smartphone. Freeman, a graduate of Trinity’s studio art program, produced these pieces during her senior year in 2017.
“My inspiration for the work came about when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, spring semester of my junior year. Being away from friends and family in the U.S., the only way we were able to communicate was with technology,” Freeman said. “I just became very aware of how much other people were using those devices all around me. … That’s kind of how everyone would experience all of the tourist attractions. So when I went to art museums and historical sites everyone was taking pictures, selfie sticks everywhere. People would take it in and appreciate it, but I kind of wondered what it was like before we had smartphones.”
After Freeman completed the paintings as part of her capstone project, the collection was bought as part of the library’s student art purchase program. Freeman expressed her appreciation to have her work be displayed.
“I really like how people who are going to Trinity, who are doing the same things that I did, going through the same things get to see those pieces. I hope that it being on display causes other people to think about it,” Freeman said.
You’ve likely also walked past the illuminating installation piece which hangs over the stairway to the library’s fourth floor. Countless small lantern-like figures make up this piece, titled “Crystalline Structure”, produced by alumni Jessica Kripal ’16 and Caitlin Lawrence ’16. Harris noted the serendipitous story of how the piece found its location.
“It was part of a senior show and they were worried about what to do with it after the show. Professor Kate Ritson came over and asked me if there was a place in the library for it, and there’s a perfect place in the library for it,” Harris said. “It fits so well, it’s almost just a lucky accident really that they thought of us.”