Future visitors to the new Monticello Library, if your library carts seem to have sprouted limestone slabs or a few extra knobs and handles, do not be alarmed.
The carts, repurposed to become functional displays of art, are part of the public art recently approved by the Johnson County Commission.
The commission accepted the recommendation of the Public Art Commission’s selection panel and granted contracts to Kansas City artists Jim Woodfill, Stephen Lichty and Beth Nybeck for various artworks in and around the building.
The artworks will include the carts, glass panels for meeting room walls and two large steel heads for outside the building.
The outdoor sculpture, by Nybeck, will be in a space visible from the street and from windows inside the building as well as an upper-floor patio. Her sculptures are two large heads made from geometric shapes cut from corten steel — a material that weathers and rusts to a certain point but remains structurally sound.
The heads will face each other, with one smaller than the other. Nybeck said she intends to conduct interviews in the community and then cut words from parts of those interviews into the heads for an airy look and a feeling of conversation. The sculptures will be set on grass so no rust will stain concrete walkways, she said.
Woodfill and Lichty are doing the carts and a glass design for the walls enclosing meeting rooms. They plan five to seven carts, which will transform the ordinary library cart into “something more or less than a cart,” said Woodfill, instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute. The carts can be used by library staff for displays or other uses, giving the staff a role in curating the art, he said.
The glass will feature designs on both sides that will give a sense of motion as patrons walk along them.
Nybeck was awarded $100,000 to make her sculptures. Woodfill and Lichty will get a total of $75,000. The money comes from a program allocating 1 percent of selected capital improvement projects budgets for public art.
Construction started recently on the library, which is expected to be done in mid-2018.