Collaborative community art

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Little Black Book Project returns for a second year

Robyn Tocker
Contributor

What started as a simple idea has taken the University of Regina campus by a creative storm.

“The Little Black Book Project” was originally initiated last year by Angel McDowell, manager of the U of R Art Store.

“I was on the Internet one night on [Stumbleupon] and it led me to this site called The Art House Co-op,” she said. “They do a project called ‘The Sketchbook Project’.”

The concept of The Sketchbook Project was simple: take a nondescript book and redesign it for display in their library. But for McDowell, the real challenge wasn’t in implementing the project, but adapting it to the smaller scale of the U of R.

“Theirs is a huge project and the books are bar-coded, so you can see who’s looked at your book. I thought it was a great idea, but how can we adapt it for the university campus, for our community?” she said. “So I decided to call ours ‘The Little Black Book Project’.” 

Along with not mutilating the book, the people taking part have their books displayed in their library, while here ours have a different fate.
“The books are left for the silent auction. where people can bid on the ones they like,” McDowell said. “All the proceeds that are raised from the auction come back to benefit our students and to fund projects like this.”

It’s an ingenious way to give back to our art community, while having lots of fun along the way. But McDowell notes that despite what might seem like an almost competitive aspect to the project in the silent auction, she stressed that “this is in no way a contest. It is a collaborative community art project”.

Like most newcomers to campus, getting involved can be a major step towards having an amazing university experience. So once a person signs up for the project, has paid their $10 registration fee, and receives the book, what do they do?

“After buying their book, they have three months to reinvent their book based on the secret theme located in the back pocket of the black book. People are free to destroy the book or recreate it in any way they want to,” McDowell explained. “We’ve had some people turn them into sculptures, while others have pulverized the pages and used the mulch to turn that into a tree. We’ve had a lot of different interpretations of the theme.”

It’s no wonder the project has received such positive reinforcement from visual art students and members of other faculties.

You can buy a book starting Nov. 1 from the Art Store located in the Riddell Centre basement, and for three months participate in what is sure to be something students here on campus look forward to doing every year.

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