625 Exhibition Highlights HCL Artists

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Five current exhibitors pose in front of Murray Barsky's photographs. Front row (l-r): Christie Gilliland, Sandy Wamsley. Back row: Greg Hill, Delana Hirschy, Christine Fernsebner-Eslao.

Walk into the 625 Mass. Ave. staff room these days and you’ll find a small art gallery à la Newbury Street, complete with paintings, photographs in both color and black-and-white, and even an origami installation piece. For more than a year now the staff room has served as the site of three consecutive art shows, carefully arranged and executed, featuring the artistic skills of eleven HCL staff members.

Art show organizer Christie Gilliland, Technical Services Library Assistant in the African & Asian Unit, had no idea the installation would be so well received. But after the initial exhibit opened in February 2007 featuring four artists, several people inquired about whether there would be another because they were interested in displaying their work as well.

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Umbrellas, Murray Barsky. Color photo, 2004.

A second successful installation followed later that year with another four artists, and a third, larger show began this past Valentine’s Day. While it’s not uncommon to decorate offices with reproductions of famous works or even original art, not many can say they work among art created by their colleagues.

"The exhibitions have been very well received," says Gilliland. "Everyone comments on how much brighter it makes the room and how nice it is to know that these works were created by our colleagues."

"People have really been inspired by the photography," she adds.

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Selection of photos, Christine Eslao. Digital color photos mounted on foam core, 2004-2008.

The current exhibit offers viewers multiple works by six HCL artists, including three photographers. On the staff room’s far wall is a selection of four carefully composed photographs by Murray Barsky, Administrative Coordinator, including Umbrellas, Road in Snow, and Mountain Pine. "I am interested in what happens when textures juxtapose, and the spaces between things; how this can become that when it's inside the frame," says Barsky. "I still use an old manual film camera mostly because I like the color of sunlight in Fujichrome."

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Le Marais, Greg Hill. Black and white photo, 1975.

Another two dozen photos of varying sizes and themes taken by Christine Fernsebner-Eslao, Technical Services Librarian in the English Division, with her Nikon Coolpix 4800 adorn another wall. Locals might recognize scenes from Central Square and Somerville among the eye-catching images of rock shows, food, and structures. "I carry my camera around a lot," explains Eslao. "These are things that I run into."

Photographer Greg Hill, Library Assistant, Preservation & Imaging Department, contributed six atmospheric black-and-white from his collection to the show. Although he now shoots with a digital camera, Hill says he used his old Honeywell Pentax for these shots taken between 1967 and 1975 that include Longfellow House, Along the Charles, and Le Marais.

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Letting Them Go, Delana Hirschy.

Another work, a colorful and graceful origami mobile, hangs from the staff room’s ceiling. Floating and twirling in the air, the mobile was created out of individual origami cranes folded by Delana Hirschy, Library Assistant in HCL/FAS Cataloging Support Services. Hirschy’s cranes have their origin in the Japanese legend that promises a wish or good luck to any person who folds one thousand origami cranes. She has managed to fold the requisite thousand cranes a couple of times although once, she says, her wish came true after only folding 750 and she had to force herself to finish the project. Gilliland and Barsky helped Hirschy assemble the cranes into strings for the mobile.

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Little Man with Red Hat, Sandra Wamsley.
Acrylic, 2005.

The art show also has its share of painters, of course, including Sandra Wamsley, Technical Services Library Assistant in the English Division. Although she prefers to work with watercolors, Wamsley, who has been painting for nearly five years, chose two of her acrylics painted in 2005 for this show: Samadhi and Little Man with Red Hat.

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Hello, Christie Gilliland. Oil on canvas, 2007.

Last but not least, Gilliland’s own work has appeared in all three shows held so far. A trained musician, Gilliland only picked up a paintbrush a couple of years ago when she signed up for a Harvard Summer School art class. Since then she’s experimented with both oil paints and acrylics, and with close-ups and abstract art. Among her pieces currently on display are Hello, Sea, and Triangle.

The first two exhibitions also included Mary Jane Cuneo, Senior Cataloger, Fine Arts Library; Deb Grier, Harvard Depository Coordinator, Fine Arts Library; Shawn Hill, Library Assistant, Technical Services; Mary Hopkins, Library Assistant, Spanish/Portuguese Division; and Jaime McAllister-Grande, Materials Management Project Manager.