When Amanda Wojick conceived her design for a sculpture at the Salem Public Library, she wanted to celebrate two things she loves: landscapes and public libraries.“I love that libraries are different in every small town and city,” Amanda says. “And I love that they’re a free, fun place to spend time.”
She took as her natural inspiration a “family” of remote waterfalls in the Opal Creek Wilderness, first documented by author and backwoods explorer Maynard Drawson around 1970.
“Waterfalls are an ongoing theme in my work, both imaginary and real,” Amanda says. “I like the idea of feeling transported to a place I haven’t been.” Oregon’s natural environment was a big part of the reason she moved to Oregon and has stayed here for more than 20 years.
Her design also considers the special location the library represents, tying in library collection numbers with the theme of location and dislocation.
“The call number is essentially an address for each book, telling us exactly where that book lives,” she explains. “At the same time, even though each book has a fixed location, it can also travel anywhere with each patron.”
She also found inspiration from the idea of mingling with the Library’s collection of public art, particularly that of Constance Fowler, a founding faculty member of Willamette University’s art department and a champion of Northwest Regionalism in painting. Her 1934 work, “Gardiner, Oregon (The Village),” is part of the library’s collection.
Amanda is a professor and the Art Department chair at the University of Oregon. Her visual art often combines sculpture, collage and painting. Her artwork was selected by a selection committee that included members of the Art Commission, Library Foundation, Library Advisory Board, Hacker Architects, and Library staff.
She uses materials such as cut and folded paper, glue, wood and tape to create brightly-colored dimensional works. However, in her work for the library, her small, paper-based prototype will be fabricated on a much larger scale in painted steel mounted on the large, concrete wall that overlooks the main floor of the library.
Her piece for the library is three-dimensional. It is designed to look different from different vantage points, exploring not only color and shape, but also tilted planes and perspective. Viewers will get slightly different experiences from up close, across the room, on the central staircase, or on the balcony above.
Amanda’s work for the library is funded through the City’s Public Art Trust Fund, where half a percent of City-funded capital projects is set aside for public art. (See Salem Revised Code Chapter 15.)