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Please DO Touch the Art

Please DO Touch the Art, coming soon to the Niagara Library, is project created by teacher, child care giver, and artist Jess Widmer.

Please explain your project.

Please DO Touch the Art is an invitation and a wish for the community to interact with something whimsical, handmade, and unique. I chose a library for several reasons. Libraries are accessible to everyone; they lack the classiest connotation that an art gallery can often have. I want people to come to the library and be inspired by the work to create their own narratives of the piece, to spark imagination. (Books are also great for that, it turns out!) Moreover I want something specifically for children to be engaged by. There are not many free indoor things for children to do when the weather is harsh and having touchable work in a library creates a sense of magic in a space that is made for learning and dreaming.

Sitting on a creature while you read, or having another draped near your head as you work would be something delightfully new. It is rare and valuable to have art that is touchable and interactive. Developmentally, children learn through touch, and many adults need touch to better connect with the world, as well as with their imaginations. Both benefit from the tactile experience and break from the immersion in the digital world.

How did you come up with idea?

As a tactile person myself, I recognize the lack of interactive art in Buffalo as well as the need for children and adults to engage more fully with their imagination and their senses. I love mythology, creatures, and things that feel like dreams. I'm often inspired by dreams, stories, emotion, and the natural world. By combining these things I'm creating work that can reach a wide range of people.

What are the next steps?

The next steps are figuring out how to engage the community around the Niagara Library and gathering supplies. I would like to tap into folklore or mythology of the Burmese, African, and Latin community there in a way that includes them and starts a conversation. I don’t want the art to appear from nothing in the space. I want it to be engaging and connected to the people going to use the library. There will be a hanging creature, hanging clouds with iridescent crystal rain drops to refract light into the library, and some climbable rock pillows. Then I can lead a workshop and start making the creature for the space. You can see updates on my Facebook page, @JessWidmerart or my Instagram, @jwbunny4.

Funded by Buffalo, NY (September 2017)