|Matilda Joslyn Gage|
When an art show ventures outside the realm of aesthetics and into that of the concept— especially one extending its hand to a community saturated with visual art(ists)—people are bound to leave with some questions. But that’s the point.
(The Missing Library) could not be a more conceptual exhibit. A show built around community engagement and provoking discussion about the unstable future of libraries, its lack of pretty pictures throws some visitors at first. But then they return, with questions they didn’t know they had and a new understanding of how (The Missing Library) isn’t a show that requires, or wants, typical gallery decorum. It’s actually one that invites you to stretch out on a giant pillow and watch Ghostbusters, to play a scavenger hunt, to take out a book but leave another in its place; it wants you to leave your mark as it leaves one on you.
The events, pieces, and projects involved in (The Missing Library) aren’t what they appear to be at first glance. It’s like a book you actually want to read two or three times. You got the storyline the first time around but it brought up questions—equal parts vague and personal—about how you view the world that bring you back in search of your answer.
With that said, I watched and listened with an open mind three Thursdays ago as architect Lori Brown talked about her proposed Matilda Joslyn Gage Library and the eponymous woman whose legacy just reemerged on the historical radar for the first time in over a century.