The Dayton Metro Library has selected five proposals for artwork to be installed in the new West Branch Library, currently under construction at Abbey Avenue and Route 35. These are the latest commissions in the ReImagining Works project, which places new, original artwork in each Dayton Metro Library location. ReImagining Works invites artists to use pieces from the Dayton Art Institute’s permanent collection as inspiration for new art installations in the new or newly remodeled Libraries. The project is made possible by an anonymous bequest.
For the West Branch Library, two pieces from the DAI served as inspiration: Norman Lewis’ Cantata, from 1948, and the 20th century Nwantantay Mask, from the Bwa people of Burkina Faso.
Dayton artist James Pate will create a large oil painting entitled Read and Play, depicting a child with outstretched arms symbolically embracing Dayton’s musical, literary and scientific heritage. The work, executed in Pate’s signature representational style, will be featured in the Library’s Marketplace, the common central area of the building.
Cincinnati artist Cedric Michael Cox’s proposed work will also be featured in the Marketplace. Cox works in a style that falls between surrealism and abstract representation. His 8’ x 10’ acrylic painting references the atmospheric elements of the Norman Lewis work, along with some of the architectural features of the new Library. Forms interweave and interact with each other to create a unified whole.
Dayton artist Kevin Harris will have his artwork featured in the large Community Room. This 9’ x 20’ work entitled Domain of Do references the Bwa people’s ceremony featuring the Nwantantay Mask. This highly colored, rhythmic work will be digitally designed and printed on canvas.
Cincinnati artist Susan Byrnes, working in collaboration with Dayton choreographer and multidisciplinary artist Rodney Veal and former DCDC dancer Brianna Rhodes, will produce a series of five large expressionistic photographs. The photos will depict Veal’s choreography, based on the classical composer, John Carter’s “Cantata” in five movements, which Rhodes will perform. The photographs will be as abstract as Norman Lewis’ artwork, capturing the movement of the dancer through lights embedded in the dancer’s costume.
Dayton artist Willis “Bing” Davis and his son, Derrick Davis, will collaborate on a new work. Their oil pastels piece will offer an interpretation of both the Bwa mask, with its geometric shapes, and the rhythmic, abstract work of Norman Lewis in Cantata.
“It’s exciting that six of the artists/collaborators to be exhibited at West Branch are new to the ReImagining Works program,” said Jayne Klose, DML Community Engagement Manager. “These art installations are such beautiful additions to our Libraries, adding to the unique qualities of each Branch and its community.”