The Art Lending Collection at the Braddock Carnegie Library makes artworks available for check-out to anyone in Allegheny County with a valid library card in the same way one would check out a book.
By integrating an Art Lending Collection into a public library we are proposing that a library is a unique space in which to experience contemporary art and arts programs, with a unique potential to develop critical arts discourse that is not dependent on the market economy and its familiar exclusions; one that is fueled by autonomous learning, guided by curiosity, and that nurtures diverse social arrangements and modes of exchange. The works within the Art Lending Collection accumulate value through their free circulation and through the conversation of our patrons.
The collection features work by nearly all of the artists in the 2013 Carnegie International, but It also honors the discourse production of our neighborhood by including three groups of works gifted by library patrons with whom we have had an arts based dialogue: James Kidd, Regis Welsh and Ray Henderson. These collections speak to the diversity of aesthetic perspectives that exist in our neighborhood, and fill in some gaps in the dominant arts discourse, particularly in the inclusion of explicitly political and African American themes.
The collection values the expertise of our neighbors as cultural workers and fulfills our commitment to examining our direct economic impact as artists in our neighborhood through the creation of paid positions for three Art Lending Facilitators hired from our library service area, who pursue individual and collaborative research, assist patrons in selecting artwork, develop arts related programs, and ensure that the collection remains relevant to the neighborhood by guiding its growth as we acquire new work.
The collection projects the aesthetic discourse of our neighborhood into the Carnegie Museum of Art. For the duration of the international patrons can select artworks from the collection to be hung in the museum. These works rotate every two weeks.
Art is a socially constructed system, made by us as we make meaning together. It reflects social conditions and has similar relations of power as other systems such as our education system and our economy, but we believe that it is a system that is uniquely able to examine itself as it examines the world in which it exists. This capacity is what creates the potential for art to be transgressive, radical, transformative. It cannot access this potential when the discourse that shapes does not adequately include the voices of people of diverse ages, ethnicities, cultural and class backgrounds. Art is impoverished when it does not include the discourse of the people who live in our neighborhood. By developing a collection that includes multiple voices in its curation, by creating positions for cultural workers from outside of the mainstream art world, by offering artwork for free circulation in a library, by moving the aesthetic choices of our neighbors into the museum, we seek to serve art by offering the discourse of our neighbors.