The lives of librarians after hours

By on December 16, 2014
Untitled by Christy Shannon Smirl.

Untitled by Christy Shannon Smirl.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – If you wander into Teton County Library before the end of January, you might learn something new about the people who help you with your research, find your books and read to your children. It appears something magical happens when members of the library staff leave work. They go home to family, friends and pets. They make dinner or dine out and do normal household chores. But some of them also unleash a creative side.

You can glimpse this hidden side of your favorite library staff at an art exhibit at Teton County Library now through January 31. The Library Staff Art Show features the work of 23 Teton County Library employees.

“It’s a really eclectic mix,” said Julia Hysell, library communications manager.

The show features art ranging from glasswork and paintings to photography and mixed media to hand bound books and origami. Each piece has a distinctive feel even if living in Jackson inspired all, Hysell said.

The shows it the brainchild of Oona Doherty, the education and program manager who plans library exhibits. Doherty did an open call to the staff for the exhibit asking simply for art, Hysell said. The openness of the request allowed for a variety of styles and pieces.

“Everyone has a kind of cool, personal interpretation of what art is,” she said. “We got a lot of variety.”

Before Kent Fisk worked at Teton County Library as the IT systems manager, he was a professional glassblower and artist. He created a vase and a paperweight that features a miniature “universe” with what looks like clouds swirling around mountains.

Lokey Lytjen, library volunteer program coordinator, produced hand bound books. One piece is a simple bound book created in tribute to Lytjen’s parents, featuring handmade mulberry papers embellished with calligraphy and family pictures. For Lytjen, creating the hand bound books is a way to unwind when not at work.

There’s an origami sculpture created by library assistant Eva Dahlgren that replicates in needle and thread Vincent Van Goh’s painting “Bedroom in Arles.” Robin Allison, a library page, stitched the piece.

Mountain Lake by Sheila Tintera.

Mountain Lake by Sheila Tintera.

“Everybody here at the library is really curious,” she said. “That’s why we do the work that we do. Sort of an offshoot of that is there are a lot of really creative people.”

The show has given the staff insight into each other’s lives, Hysell said. Most of the work she saw she had no idea her colleagues created in their off time. “There’s a surprise element in it,” she said. “We’re colleagues and we work together and now you get a little more insight into some people’s lives.”

To help viewers get to the know the artists and library staff even better, each piece also features cards with the artist’s name and fun facts, like their favorite literary character, what book they are reading now, or the name of their hometown library.

Allison, for example, who stitched the piece inspired by the Van Gogh painting, lists her favorite character from a book as Nate from the Joe Pickett novels by C.J. Box. Beth Holmes, the youth program coordinator who is showing a black-and-white photo called “Forgotten Buffalo,” is currently reading Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Hysell doesn’t have anything in the show, but seeing it has taught her something about herself, she said. “I should be doing something more creative in my free time,” she said.

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