"Pop-Up School" and Library at BAM

Giant rag rug

An exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum that opened January 31, 2014 contains a library as part of its interactive showcase, which is “like a pop-up school.” Curated by David Wilson, who has always been interested in communal art, The Possible occupies most of the ground floor galleries with its own library on one of the upper levels. The wall text up there said the library section is “A space devoted to research and references relevant to the ideas, practices and participants of The Possible. This collection grows as guest artists continue to share readings, recordings, and multisensory collections of inspiration.” In this library, you are invited to browse any of the books on the open shelves and directed to participate in the project by using one of the copiers provided to duplicate a favorite page or passage from one of the books, attach a copy of the cover, clip together with the instruction sheet and leave on a shelf as well. 

Overview of printshop, ceramics, polymer clay areas and upper galleries

As with the rest of the exhibit, the library is a living, growing thing, constantly layering upon itself. Usually, we go to a museum to absorb things already made. This exhibit is intended to promote continuous creation. In an article by Lou Fancer, Wilson is quoted as saying, “We aren’t trying to create artists,” but he does want get people excited about making things. Wilson is attempting to make the abstract concrete: “Art becomes a place…a sight [sic] with potential.” 

Natural dyes and textiles

In this case, what the library contains may not be as important as its continued expansion. While you can get an idea of the books that inspire others, the point is to be inspired to contribute yourself. Based on Wilson’s emphasis on process, it seems unlikely that the library will be catalogued and saved: it just may be ephemeral: of the moment only and another ghost library when gone. 


Polymer clay area

If you can pay to enter the museum on a Sunday, you can have access to the ground floor art studios: braiding a huge rag rug; weaving; dying with on-site plant materials; photocopying and making collaged envelopes; carving potatoes or blocks; creating something out of clay; throwing a pot; or creating things out of colorful polymer clay. If you can pay to enter the museum or come on a free day, then you can have access to the library. Anyone can come in. Nobody owns this library.

The exhibition continues through May 25, 2014.