Staff Spotlight: PhxArt Librarian Jesse Lopez on the BIG Little LibraryStaff Spotlight: PhxArt Librarian Jesse Lopez on the BIG Little Library

Staff Spotlight: PhxArt Librarian Jesse Lopez on the BIG Little Library

Staff Spotlight: PhxArt Librarian Jesse Lopez on the BIG Little Library
Aug, 17, 2021


Staff Spotlight: PhxArt Librarian Jesse Lopez on the BIG Little Library

As librarian of the Lemon Art Research Library at Phoenix Art Museum, Jesse Lopez, who recently joined the PhxArt team in April 2021 has had the opportunity to reimagine the Ballinger Interactive Gallery, now colloquially known as the BIG Little Library. This space on the second floor of the Museum’s North Wing will be a new satellite location for the Lemon Art Research Library, which is housed in the Museum’s Administrative and Education Building, located just across the Dorrance Sculpture Garden. The BIG Little Library will showcase the bibliographic wealth of the institution’s library and how it fosters a deeper understanding of the exhibitions on view at Phoenix Art Museum.

We recently spoke with Jesse to learn about his process for revitalizing the space and to get a sneak-peek of what will be featured in the upcoming reinstallation.

PhxArt: What should we look forward to with the opening of the satellite location?

Jesse Lopez: The opening of the BIG Little Library this November will feature a library exhibition that complements the upcoming Landscapes of Extraction: The Art of Mining in the American West special-engagement exhibition, which premieres in the Museum’s Steele Gallery in the same month. It will additionally provide more information on the library, its history and resources, and related library services and programming.

Along with books relating to the exhibition, this space will feature a TV screen with two videos on loop. One video will be a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) video created by the Museum in collaboration with Matthew Toro, head of the Maps and Geospatial Library at Arizona State University. The other featured video is still pending confirmation, but it will be an exciting addition that will support Landscapes of Extraction by demonstrating the complexity of mining in the West.

PhxArt: Can you tell us more about the books that will be featured?

Lopez: There will be about 6 to 8 books that relate to Landscapes of Extraction, as well as other information pamphlets about different subjects relating to the library and exhibition. My process included pulling all books in our collection related to artists whose works will be featured in the exhibition. I went through each of them page by page, and they are my favorites in terms of display and impact. Several copies of the exhibition publication will also be on display. A third display case will feature several fascinating rare books from the Lemon Art Research Library’s Special Collections that are not tied to Landscapes of Extraction.

PhxArt: What artists can visitors expect to learn more about in the BIG Little Library?

Lopez: Most of the books are either about an artist in the exhibition or authored by the artist themselves. Edward Burtynsky and David Maisel, two artists from Landscapes of Extraction, will feature prominently in the display. These photographers create surreal images from a high aerial bird’s eye view to depict the beauty and blight of man-altered landscapes including mines. Specifically, we will be showing Burtynsky’s book Oil and Maisel’s book Black Maps among others.

PhxArt: What are you most excited for with this installation?

Lopez: I am excited to have a space to create a unique exhibition and the opportunity to collaborate with other special libraries and librarians in Metro Phoenix to further explore this topic of mining in the West. This is my first time creating a “library exhibition,” and I am excited to collaborate on future exhibitions, especially the upcoming Desert Rider exhibition.

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