Arts Tribe Exhibit Really Makes You Think—in More Ways than One

by Alex Lee, age 14

As we Simpson Street Free Press reporters pulled up to the Sun Prairie Library’s parking lot, we gazed excitedly at the church-like building. While walking in, we noticed a small sample of the Arts Tribe Exhibition. We stopped in the library’s community room, there we met some Arts Tribe members.
The Arts Tribe is a group of artists who live in Dane County. The members of the Arts Tribe first came together to teach a class on creating and having control over your own exhibition space. They also provided the students of the class a place to display their own art. The class was taught by Tom Linfield and Bobbette Rose. Because the class was so successful, they kept on teaching it. The Arts Tribe has since come to include Katelyn Alain, Dean Allen, Jayne Reid Jackson, Karen Reppen, Gary N-Ski, Aimee Reid-Rice, Dana Slowiak, Tom Linfield, and Bobbette Rose. The nine-member group has been together for five years.
Each year, the Arts Tribe chooses a new theme to explore for an exhibit. Their first theme was music, where they collaborated on a project with the Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. The second was titled “Blue” which could mean anything relating to blue: the color, the music, the emotion—anything. Another exhibit, “Seed” included a collaboration with local farmers and the Dane County Farmer’s Market. The current theme is titled “Cover to Cover” for which Arts Tribe has been working with some of Dane County’s libraries.
Their exhibit will last for 14 months and they will be at eight different libraries. This fall the Arts Tribe Exhibit was at the Alicia Ashman and Pinney Branches. It will be available for viewing at the Verona Public Library during December and January.
One of the Arts Tribe members, Tom Linfield, started a slide show presentation about their inspiration for the exhibition. During the presentation we saw the work of many amazing artists that inspired the Arts Tribe. For example, artist Chris Cobb got permission from a used bookstore to reorganize their books by color. Sue Blackwell created 3D scenes from different books that were literally bursting out of the book’s pages. Another artist, Alicia Martin, made several installations, including some in which buildings appeared to be spewing out books. Guy Larameé carved out books to make realistic geologic landscapes like Macu Picchu in Peru.
Arts Tribe placed some of their book-art throughout the library. For example, one piece that Dana Slowiak and Tom Linfield worked on was taking thousands of dictionary pages and dipping them in wax. They then rolled the paper up into scrolls of varying sizes and put them on shelves and between books around the library.
All of the artists thought the most fun and interesting part of this exhibit was using the books to making the art. They all agreed that the three rules in order to ruin a book are that you must have read it, loved it, and there must be more copies of it. Some people accused the artists of being “book-murderers.” We don’t think so, but fund the question very interesting to ponder. And that’s what art is supposed to be.
The Simpson Street Free Press reporters really enjoyed this interesting trip and had a great experience. I felt that at the end of the presentation we learned a lot about art and the many ways artists think and work. We also enjoyed looking at the unique book-art by the Arts Tribe. I would definitely recommend checking out the exhibit.