American Artist Appreciation Month

The Crawfordsville District Public Library invites our patrons to support the arts by being knowledgeable art advocates during American Artist Appreciation Month. Artists of the Americas have become the dominant supporters of artistic freedom and have the ability to bring attention to important topics. Conventionally, an art-based education has a never-ending supply of European superstars, and its most celebrated artworks rely on their historical traditions and societal expectations. American artists have no obligation to any one group and have the freedom to reflect on personal experiences, hot topics, and imaginary ideas in any medium they choose. CDPL has an extensive collection of art-themed reading materials for every type of creative interest.

Christine Mather guides you through some of the earliest American artworks. She showcases the artistic knowledge that has accumulated from the religious traditions of the Pueblo peoples who have inhabited the same lands for thousands of years. “Native America: Arts, Traditions, and Celebrations” (704.0397 Mat) is full of colorful imagery of art, design, and the creative people who have continued to use artistic methods developed by their ancestors. James Oles’ “Art and Architecture in Mexico” (700.973 Ole) explores the history and the development of an independent Mexican artist identity. He discusses the way social and cultural changes have inspired a unique contemporary perspective born from a mix of local tribal traditions and 300 years of Spanish influence.

Innovation strives in hard times and great works have been produced by those living on the fringes of society. Susan Goldman Rubin shines a light on some of the most prolific outsiders. In the “Art Against the Odds – From Slave Quilts to Prison Painters” (700.9 Rub) she discusses the artworks made by the incarcerated, orphans, captives, and others deemed as outsiders. These individuals created complex narratives with simple tools and recycled materials while battling the most unfortunate circumstances. Tim Lefens’ “Flying Colors” (371.9 Lef) is a memoir by a dedicated teacher who believes that art has the power to change lives. He reveals his experiences working with a remarkable group of artists in New Jersey who overcame their physical limitations and surpassed the expectations set for them.

Creative Americans have been walking on the edge of what is trendy or acceptable in elite art societies by making art accessible to everyday people. Learn about a group of tattooed women who empowered themselves by working in sideshows, carnivals, and small museums in Amelia Kleim Osterud’s book, “The Tattooed Lady: A History” (391.65 Ost). The last of this fascinating group of women retired in the mid-1990s when the popularity of tattoos for women skyrocketed, yet the legacy does live on in the realm of music festivals, burlesque shows, and performance art.

You will find “The Art of Tinkering” (500 Wil) by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich at the intersection where art meets science and technology. After visiting Vollis Simpson’s wind-art farm in North Carolina, they discovered that their way of thinking about making art would never be the same. As the co-directors of the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio, they created a fun and comprehensive book that encourages you to blur the lines between art and science and to be comfortable not knowing what will happen. They include lists of tools, directions for science-based processes, and possible ways to incorporate these ideas into your art, all accompanied by full-colored images.

Until recent times, many artworks produced by women have not been given fair attention even though their presence is well-documented. “Whispers to Shouts: Indiana Women Who Create Art” (704.042 Whi) was sponsored by the Indiana State Museum and Indiana Arts Commission. It is a publication that has detailed artists’ bios and full-colored images of artworks produced by female artists from Indiana. It includes Associate Professor Karen Baldner who has guided students in the pursuit of artistic mastery at Herron School of Art and Design for over 20 years, and local fiber artist Martha Donovan Opdahl, who has been nationally exhibiting and curating group and solo shows inspired by current hot topics. “Women in Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World” (704.04 Ign) by Rachel Ignotofsky is packed with light-hearted illustrations and valuable information about leading artists such as Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keefe, Dorothea Lange, Frida Kahlo, Ray Eames, Faith Ringgold, and many more. This colorful book is divided into sections by historical timelines, tools of the trade, financial statistics, and the elements and principles of art and design.

CDPL supports the local art and culture community in several ways beyond our reading materials and hands-on programs. We have a permanent collection of artworks by artists connected to the region that reaches back to the beginning of the library’s creation. Several of the pieces can be seen adorning the walls of our building any day of the week. We house the special collection of the Art League of Montgomery County, as well as famous local art celebrities. Consider enjoying the current artists’ exhibits in the Mary Bishop Memorial Gallery on the first floor. The gallery hosts 7-10 shows a year such as the annual Tri Kappa Student, Sugar Creek Quilters Guild, and the Art League of Montgomery County group exhibits, as well as local, regional, national, and international solo shows.

Stop by the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor for assistance with finding books or other materials and information. If you are interested in searching our catalog in advance, signing up for an upcoming program, reserving a meeting room, or learning how to obtain a library card, please visit our website at CDPL is open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m.

Toni Ridgway-Woodall is a Library Assistant in the Reference and Local History department at CDPL.