Library launches artist in residence program

Some collage pieces students have submitted. The artist in residence program hopes to provide students the opportunity to pursue arts in a primarily tech driven campus. // Photo by Dani Sisson Student Publications

The Tech library has launched its first artist-in-residence (AIR) program, which will allow students to work with and learn from renowned artists throughout the semester. “One thing that the library leadership at the time wanted to do was infuse the arts into the research that’s happening,” said Catherine Manci, the public programming librarian at Tech who is now over the AIR program. “We have an artist in the space that is creating art, but they’re also doing programming and workshops for students that kind of reveal and open up their process [to students],” she said. 

Tech’s first AIR is Deanna Sirlin, an Atlanta-based artist whose work has appeared in exhibits across the globe. Sirlin is from Brooklyn, New York and has been interested in creating art since a young age. Her works span a variety of mediums, from paintings to mosaics to metal sculptures. Sirlin considers herself a public artist, saying she wants her work “to get off that traditional substrate of the museum or the gallery and the canvas, and get into the real world and become part of people’s lives.” In addition to public installations across Atlanta and elsewhere, her art has been shown in museums such as the High Museum of Art and a recent exhibition in Portugal.

Sirlin said that she has wanted to work with Tech since the renovation of Crosland Tower a few years ago and was enchanted by the new architecture and the changing role of libraries in students’ lives. “I’ve always loved libraries because they’re a place of ideas, a place of reflection, a place of thought, and they’re a place of information,” Sirlin said. 

Her final work at the end of the semester will be installed in the windows next to the wooden steps in the bottom of Crosland Tower. Sirlin also said she was inspired by the 50 Years of Science Fiction at Tech Celebration in the library and her art apprentices introducing her to utopian and dystopian themes through their discussions. She wanted to explore how science fiction is relevant to people today, and she saw addressing climate change as a linkage between the genre and life now. 

Her work this semester starts out with “Mapping the Text,” which invites students to create a collage in response to quotes from the novel Dune. The next part of her project, she says, will “take the real world that students live in, which is the library, and taking that into Photoshop and creating a new science fiction image experience digitally.” Her last workshop plans to return those images to the physical workspace, but its purpose may change as the semester progresses. 

These workshops may produce smaller pieces with students’ involvement, but Sirlin’s final piece will showcase her own work. Sirlin is excited to collaborate with students and has been impressed by their work so far. She is also eager to see the culmination of this project in person, as her most recent exhibition was across the world while she was unable to visit due to the pandemic. 

Seeing how students interact with the final installation is also something she is looking forward to, and the piece should be installed in March. 

Manci also said the library hopes to continue this program into future semesters. She hopes that the library will continue to “have the artist-in-residence create a physical space in the library where students can engage with their work.” 

Students wanting to get involved with the project can visit the Tech library website to learn more about the workshop, including the “Mapping the Text” phase that will continue until Feb. 18. 

They can also learn more about Sirlin on her website or by emailing her.