CUNY’s Keith Wilson and Artist Richard Woods Offer Object Lesson in New York City

The Object Library takes over a corner of the first floor of the Graduate Center, CUNY. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.



"What do we want from a library these days?" Sculptor Keith Wilson is exploring this question as director of a new initiative for the Center of the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Called the Object Library, it's a collection of wares and goods, as well as books, that Wilson says will “point to other ways we can learn about the world.”

Richard Woods Studios’ Logo 161 (2018) updates the original floor for the 21st century. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.

The library’s 365 Things project showcases donated items of personal and aesthetic significance—everything from a yellow vinyl 7-inch record to a medical scan showing injuries from a car accident—inside a display of galvanized steel cubes incorporating shelves finished as individual blackboards. “Each wall represents one calendar month,” Wilson says, “so when filled with objects it becomes like a big 3D advent calendar.”

Item #0031 is “The History of the Written Word,” which joins an engine and the book by literary critic Martin Puchner. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.

The library’s space, located on the first floor of what once was the B. Altman & Co. department store, embraces its own material history: the artist Richard Woods took the original parquetry floor and transformed its patterning into MDF floorboards with bright acrylic paint, installed in a random pattern across the floors and even a wall. “It allows the routine activities that we may carry out on the floor to be held under a spotlight,” Woods says. “These objects can be reassessed, and their individual narratives recontemplated.”

A ceramic owl is Item #0016 in the library. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.

A disco ball, Item #0015, asserts the importance of nightlife. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.

Items are displayed on shelving plates finished with blackboard paint, in a wink to their academic context. Photography by Paula Vlodkowsky.
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