Friday, April 13, 2018

Artists Celebrate Installation of Work at Sharon Forks Library

Bronx-based artist and printmaker Tammy Wofsey attended the official Reopening Celebration of the Sharon Forks Library, on Friday, April 13 where her commissioned print, Imagination Takes Flight, was recently installed.

Artist and printmaker Tammy Wofsey visited the
Sharon Forks Library for the installation of
 Imagination Takes Flight.
Wofsey’s work has appeared in public exhibitions across the country, including New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana, as well as exhibits in Germany, Hungary, and India. Her prints also appear in private and public collections. She prints and publishes artist books and it is in the special collections at universities such as Yale and Duke University.

While Imagination Takes Flight is Wofsey’s first commission for a public library, she certainly understands the importance of libraries to the communities they serve.

“Libraries are great places. To me, they seem like one of the last bastions of sharing and creativity - a place where people can congregate to share knowledge freely,” says Wofsey, who also serves as a reference librarian at The Thomas J. Shanahan Library at Marymount Manhattan College.

A great deal of advance planning went into the creation of Imagination Takes Flight.

After responding to a request for proposal from the Forsyth County Public Library, Wofsey’s proposal was evaluated against submissions from other artists. Once her proposal was shortlisted, Wofsey went through an interview process and portfolio review with the FCPL Board of Trustees and library leaders.

A test print of Imagination Takes Flight is
 prepared for printing after inking and placing
individual leaves on the press bed.
Image Credit: Tammy Wofsey, Plotzing Press
When Wofsey’s proposal was selected for the Sharon Forks Library, she visited the area in the fall of 2017 and spent time getting to know the library. She also collected leaves to dry and press for the print.

“Tammy and I went out for a walk with the library’s Financial Coordinator, Monica Hennings, who is quite knowledgeable about local plants, and we collected leaves from trees in the area. Then, Tammy pressed the leaves in old phone books she has collected,” explains Library Director Anna Lyle.

After taking the leaves back to her Plotzing Press studio in the Bronx, New York, Wofsey began the process of creating a linocut monoprint. A monoprint is a one of a kind print that cannot be reproduced. She used linoleum, a sheet of pliable material made from sawdust and linseed oil that would serve as the base for the print.

Next, she inked the pressed leaves with oil-based printmaking ink. The ink dries very slowly, giving the artist enough time to complete the laborious process of inking and placing each individual leaf on the press.

Artist and printmaker Tammy Wofsey (center, in green)
shares a draft of Imagination Takes Flight
with library staff and the FCPL Board of Trustees. 
“Some leaves were inked on top and others were inked on the bottom, so the viewer gets a sense of both the smooth side and the detail in the veined side of the leaves,” explains Wofsey.

Wofsey also created test prints and drafts to share with library leaders throughout the process. In total, Imagination Takes Flight was created in about five months.

Creating the final piece required the use of the largest etching press in Wofsey’s Plotzing Press studio. The finished print is impressive, measuring 4 feet wide by 10 feet long even before it was framed and installed at the library last month.

From a distance, patrons entering the library from the lobby usually notice the bold white shapes of birds taking flight or the hands seeming to catch a falling feather first. A closer inspection reveals finer details to patrons approaching the Ask Us desk.

“I wanted to leave room for the viewer to use their own creativity in how they see this piece, so I hope patrons will let it inspire them and maybe they’ll notice something new or different each time they see it,” says Wofsey.

“In our request for proposals, we asked potential artists to create artwork that would welcome people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Tammy has achieved this beautifully in Imagination Takes Flight, which features an interplay of positive and negative space. The birds are represented in the negative—blank—spaces and it has been so interesting to hear viewers’ reactions to this approach.  Some people see the birds immediately; others focus on the colorful areas and are later surprised to discover the birds.  I expect that our regular patrons will see it a little differently every time they visit the library,” adds Lyle.

Imagination Takes Flight is on permanent display over the Ask Us desk in the adult section of the Sharon Forks Library.

A set of photographs by local artists
Phil and Janet Winter are on display
 in the Sharon Forks Library’s Quiet Room.
In addition, several framed photographs taken by local photographers Phil and Janet Winter are on display in the Sharon Forks Library’s Quiet Room, a bright and comfortable place tucked away from the murmuring of conversation in the main library where patrons can read or work without distraction. Local landmarks in Forsyth County, including a photo of Settles Bridge, are the focal point of the display.

Both art installations were supported by a matching grant from the Forsyth County Arts Alliance Fund at the Forsyth County Community Foundation.

Imagination Takes Flight and the photographs in the Quiet Room are accessible during the library’s regular operating hours. To view the library’s operating schedule, please visit