Kohler Art Library’s 50th Anniversary – About the Poster Exhibition

November 11, 2020

By Anna Simon, Art Reference and Instruction Librarian, Kohler Art Library

Photo Credit: Henrique Nardi

How does one distill the essence of an art library into a graphic representation? This was the challenge given to Art 346, a graphic design class taught by Henrique Nardi in 2019. Students were asked to design a 50th-anniversary poster for the Kohler Art Library and select library collections for their inspiration. Using one of the following areas as the departure point for their designs – African art, artists’ books, Islamic art, pop-up books, or sketchbook facsimiles – students were asked to visually communicate why an art library is an essential resource for today’s student. 

Photo Credit: Henrique Nardi

To become familiar with the Kohler Art Library and its history, three ART 346 sections visited the library for an information session with Reference and Instruction Librarian Anna Simon. Students toured the library, learned about the history of the Elvehjem Building and its Brutalist design by architect Harry Weese, and discussed the art library’s role on campus, both historically and in the future. Finally, students were introduced to various special collections such as the Artists’ Book Collection and a whimsical pop-up book collection, which was gifted to the library. 

Photo Credit: Henrique Nardi

Over several weeks each student developed dozens of manual concept sketches, distilling these ideas into six digital poster iterations. After several rounds of peer critiques and feedback from Nardi and Simon, students submitted their final posters. “Students embraced this design challenge,” said Simon, who visited classes to see the posters’ progression. “They were able to show how the art library continues to inspire its users—and in turn, they inspired me as a librarian.”

In January 2020, the Elvehjem Curatorial Lab displayed a selection of posters, and eight were chosen as the official Kohler Art Library 50th anniversary commemorative posters.

If you’d like one of our KAL 50th anniversary commemorative posters, please reach out via our website.

Here is a gallery of posters that we’d like to share with you!