One of the best parts of coming back to work at the library is that you get to do art projects here. Whether it’s decorating for a holiday or for someone’s retirement party, there’s generally a call for some artistic expression every two to three months. Next Tuesday, the library is having its Year of Sustainability kick-off events which includes a bake sale, a silent auction, and a display contest in which each unit of the library is supposed to produce a display which promotes some aspect of sustainability. The kicker is the display must be made entirely of recycled stuff from around the library or stuff brought from home. Nothing from the supply room. Nothing purchased. The displays will be put up in the lobby of the library and whichever unit has the best display will win food and a sense of superiority.
This morning we had a department meeting where we were supposed to discuss ideas for our unit’s display. I didn’t just come with an idea; I came with stick figures:
During the meeting, lots of loud people had lots to say. Ideas were thrown around, some of them good, some of them good but guaranteed to offend (the “smoker’s cage” was brilliant, if bitchy). I sat and bided my time. Then, with a flourish, I pulled out my stick figures and explained my idea. To every concern, I had a quick explanation as to why it would work. I explained how we would use 3-D to make the people-cutouts pop. I explained how we would use tape instead of glue so that the entire display could be dismantled and recycled afterwards. I explained how the overall concept of bringing one’s recyclable to work appeals to both a person’s guilty side AND their lazy side. I brought so much evidence to the table that when it came to decide which idea we should go with, there was really no decision to be made.
I’m being snotty. I know that. But when it comes to being “artsy” (not to be confused actual artistic ability like painting a realistic-looking basket of fruit), I have mad skillz. I’ve made a cake which looked like a can of diet Pepsi. I tastefully decoupaged the walls of my desk unit with pictures cut from an old calendar and it looks fabulous. I sew bitchin’ Halloween costumes. Further, I have a solid understanding of visual presentation especially if the concept you’re trying to present is preachy and/or boring (and I would consider encouraging people to recycle both preachy and a little boring): keep it simple. If it’s not simple, people will not put forth the effort to figure it out.
Left to their own devices, the people in my unit would either opt out of creating a display altogether or create one so crammed with words and ideas and bad artwork that it wouldn’t stand a chance against what I imagine will be V’s totally boss contribution to the contest. My unit needs someone like me, someone who’s artsy and pushy and willing to cheerfully disregard the input of others to lead them to victory.