home Databases & Electronic Resources, Resources and Services Spotlight on Serials: American Craft

Spotlight on Serials: American Craft

An overgrown library

Though many magazines have gone completely digital, Ellis Library is still home to a large variety of print editions – several of them are probably so obscure you haven’t heard of them, but they’re full of information you wouldn’t normally come across anywhere else.

Take, for example, December/January 2018 edition of American Craft.  Erin Powell of our Serials Department couldn’t resist flipping through it when she saw this headline on the cover: “Tiny Scenes of the Apocalypse.”

Who remembers making a diorama in grade school?  It’s a common enough project, but Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber have taken it to new heights (or lows, considering the size of their art) by expanding on the diorama with increasingly complex themes and textures.  While Nix and Gerber didn’t study miniature design in college, their combined skills in photography, ceramics, and glass made them perfect partners for creating realistic scenes of disaster and dystopian realism.  They’ve gradually moved from store-bought props and empty backgrounds to making nearly every element by hand.  Every diorama is extremely detailed and filled with various textures and designs because, as Nix explains, “I don’t know what the camera is going to catch.”  Seeing this kind of in-depth art can make you feel a little out of sorts when viewing the photos, as you can’t easily tell which photos portray real life, and which have been created in a studio.  Nix actually ran into this problem last summer, when she photographed a grasshopper while visiting her mother here in Missouri.  After posting the photo to Instagram, her followers immediately thought it was a model.

An abandoned laundomat at night.

Most of their dioramas portray a “post-apocalyptic background,” as part of their ongoing series, The City, which debuted in 2005.  Nix and Gerber both have a morbid streak, and their next exhibit, premiering at the end of November, takes the dystopian scenes from indoors to outdoors – from an overgrown library to a vast view of a city skyline.  The dioramas are so detailed, the artists are only able to exhibit once every three years or so, but have been able to create their own commercial business, producing dioramas for companies like BBC America and Wired.

While people find a “dark humor” in the works, Nix worries that they “should be doing Utopian scenes” but admits, “it’s not in me.”  She asks Gerber, “Do you think we should be making ‘pretty’?  Could we even make ‘pretty’?”  But neither of them know – they just know this is the art they need to make now.

http://www.nixgerberstudio.com/

http://americancraftmag.org

Imagine handcrafting each map on the wall!

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home Resources and Services Exciting new non-fiction – “Hunger: A memoir of (my) body” by Roxane Gay

Exciting new non-fiction – “Hunger: A memoir of (my) body” by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger is available for checkout through the University Libraries.

Is there anything Roxane Gay can’t do??  Let’s just list some of the highlights of this amazing woman:

Click the cover for more information!

You wonder how a woman like that has time to do all of this and still travel around the country, promoting her new book, Hunger: A memoir of (my) body.  Gay has been open about her life and experiences, and in her new book, she tackles a subject she has often written about intimately on her tumblr blog.  Her horrific sexual assault at age 12 has been a big influence on her work over the years, and this part of her past is discussed in this book, with regards to self-image and self-care: “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”  People make assumptions and are often cruel towards people of a certain weight, but more than that, Gay confronts the reality of being a fat person in today’s society, for example: unsolicited advice from strangers (many listed on her blog with a link below), people taking food out of her grocery cart, and the heartbreaking realization that “the bigger you become, the smaller your world gets” with regards to movie theaters and airplane seats, and being excluded in so many ways. Gay’s honesty and vulnerability make this a memoir worth checking out.

 

Interesting Links:

Here are recommendations for books that you may also enjoy – available through University Libraries!  Click the covers for more information!

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Wonder Women: 25 innovators, inventors, and trailblazers who changed history by Sam Maggs and Sophia Foster-Domino

 

We were feminists once: From riot grrrl to CoverGirl®, the buying and selling of a political movement” by Andi Zeisler
Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

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home Cycle of Success Congratulations to Michaelle Dorsey for her Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award!

Congratulations to Michaelle Dorsey for her Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award!

Once a year during Staff Recognition Week, the Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award is given to one person in each of four job categories.  The award “represents those who best reflect honor upon the University and the community through a combination of job performance, job-related personal qualities, relationship with their associates, and the ability to relate their work to the missions and values of the University.” Considering the number of employees currently employed at MU, this is a great honor.  Ellis Library is lucky enough to have an amazing staff member who won the Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award this year, Michaelle Dorsey, head of our physical processing/preservation unit.

Tell us a little about your background and experience?

I have a BFA in painting and a BA in English Literature from Truman State University.  In May 2017, I earned my Master of Arts Degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies with an emphasis in Library Science (what a mouthful!).  While at Truman State University, I was a student assistant in the physical processing unit at Pickler Library.  I started at Ellis Library in 1994.

What’s the most arduous task you have?

Hands down, the most arduous task is disaster recovery.  Disaster recovery is mentally and physically exhausting.  In addition, for library staff, damage to the physical collection and the building elicit strong emotions that last well into the recovery process.  During the 2011 fire, it was difficult to work against the clock, directing the salvage of physical library materials, finding resources needed to continue the effort, acting as mediator between areas with different priorities while dealing with the emotional and psychological ramifications of the vandalism.  After the initial recovery effort, library routine goes back to normal but recovery of damaged library materials is an ongoing process for Technical Services staff long after the initial event.

Is there any task you enjoy doing personally, rather than delegating?

There are many parts of my job that I enjoy.  However, I’m happiest when performing preservation and conservation treatment.  As my responsibilities as a manger grow, I have less time to personally repair library materials.  This is sometimes hard for me to reconcile.  I derive great satisfaction from working with my hands, knowing that through my efforts, library resources continue to be available for scholars, students, and researchers.  However, I remind myself that the more skills I pass along to those I supervise, the more impact we can have on the state of the MU Libraries Collection.

Now that you’ve completed your Master’s degree, what are you working on?

The MU School of Information Science and Learning Technologies doesn’t offer a conservation component so I focused on digital preservation and digital libraries.  I’m currently apprenticing with James Downey, a local conservator.  Mr. Downey and I are working with MU Special Collections to identify RARE items in our collection that need conservation treatment.  The plan is for me to begin performing conservation treatment in-house.

You currently work on preservation, but are still learning conservation.  What is the difference between the two?

Preservation treatment and conservation treatment require similar hand skills but the decision-making, purpose, and philosophy differ.  Preservation prolongs the life of library materials in the general collection, allowing them to remain viable to the user with the idea that they are not currently rare and can be replaced or are owned by a large number of other institutions.  Conservation is performed to prolong the life of the item for a benchmark of 300 years (as long as it is kept in the proper environment) with an eye towards retaining the content and the historical significance of the physical object, and as much of the original materials and structure as possible.  The idea is to do only as much as is necessary to keep the material stable using materials and processes that will not increase deterioration and are reversible if needed.

Michaelle with librarian Corrie Hutchinson.
Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award winners!
Ann Campion Riley, Vice Provost and University Librarian, with Michaelle Dorsey.

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home Ellis Library Spotlight on new fiction: The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

Spotlight on new fiction: The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

Click for more information on Room!

Emma Donoghue is a writer who is best known for her book, “Room,” which was made in to a movie in 2016.  It won multiple awards, including being nominated for a Best Movie oscar, which is likely due to both the acting and the fact that Donoghue herself adapted the book into a screenplay.  While many consider it blasphemous to say that “the movie is better than the book,” I will say that both the book and the movie are excellent, and worth checking out (Room is available at Ellis Library, and the movie through MOBIUS).

 

 

 

Click for more information on The Wonder!

Ellis Library now has a copy of Donoghue’s new book, titled The Wonder.  Lib Wright, a nurse mentored by Florence Nightingale, is sent to a small Irish village to investigate the “wee wonder” living there, Anna O’Donnell, who is allegedly living on “manna from heaven.”  Visitors are flocking to the house to witness this miracle of a child who has had nothing but spoonfuls of water for four months.  Libby, along with another nurse, are tasked with watching Anna to make sure she isn’t sneaking food in somehow, but as Anna’s conditions worsens, Libby finds it harder and harder to be an objective observer and begins to question her own beliefs.

 

 

 

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