Through the looking glass: Library sculpture showcases books, literature

The Whirlwind of Knowledge, a new sculpture by Cindy Fielding, hangs in the foyer of the Lincoln Township Library. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

The Whirlwind of Knowledge, a new sculpture by Cindy Fielding, hangs in the foyer of the Lincoln Township Library. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — Glass books now hang from the ceiling of the Lincoln Township Library entryway thanks to the work of a Stevensville artist.

Cindy Fielding, who teaches at the Box Factory for the Arts and works out of her St. Joseph studio, was approached a few months ago by library officials to create something artistic that could hang in the building’s foyer.

Fielding was shown the space the board of directors were looking to fill by Library Director Mary Hill. What she came up with would be a hanging chandelier-like sculpture equipped with twisted metal and glass. The structure that combines the ideas of durability and vulnerability is called “The Whirlwind of Knowledge.”

“We both found something we liked right away,” Fielding said. “I gave Mary my first idea and everybody there seemed to like it. What was fun is the books have writing on them.”

Fielding specializes in larger scale pieces – especially when working with Water Street Glass. The sculpture has about 25 glass books on it, with different classics and poetry etched upon them.

“It’s a cross section of different types of books. What was fun is that it has a dignified presence and a bit of whimsy,” Fielding said. “We avoided doing any titles. What’s scrawled on there are pages from various books.”

Miniature books are featured on Cindy Fielding’s sculpture, titled The Whirlwind of Knowledge, which hangs in the foyer of the Lincoln Township Library.  (Don Campbell |HP Staff)

Miniature books are featured on Cindy Fielding’s sculpture, titled The Whirlwind of Knowledge. (Don Campbell |HP Staff)

Hill said she is still getting used to being greeted by the artwork, which was installed two months ago amid the entryway’s remodeling.

“I think that it’s great for an entrance into a library,” Hill said. “It draws the eye onto reading and books. You want to appeal to the fine arts community as well as science with all the things we are doing with the children’s literacy center. It will appeal to a large range of people coming through the doors.”

Hill only had a drawing of the potential sculpture for the longest time, until Fielding invited her to the studio to have a peek at some of the books.

Using fusible glass, the books were made flat in fire where they would be molded to get the book shape. The lettering portion required the most detail, where Fielding had them fired on at the time the glass pieces were fused together. Fielding said the metal portion of the sculpture was done by another artist.

The glass part was done over the process of a week. Laying one glass book over the fire for a finished product takes 24-36 hours. With only two molds and about 25 books, Fielding had her work cut out for her.

The library had a few lights shine up into the sculpture to illuminate it at night, which can be seen from John Beers Road. One of the last touches to the sculpture was to have a metal piece protrude from the sculpture’s center that slides into the back of each glass book. Fielding said the hooks give the sculpture a sort of back-up measure.

“It was important to me that we designed it so the books were removable,” Fielding said. “If over time one of the books gets damaged, you could slip it off and put a new book back on.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 11, 2016)

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