Old architectural drawings, posters and other materials are being fashioned into public art meant to convey a sense of community at Barrington Area Library.
Professional artist Barbara Cooper of Chicago this week began installing the piece called "Network" that'll be suspended in the library's soaring atrium just inside the main entrance. Cooper will discuss the work as part of an opening reception and ribbon cutting from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24.
Cooper -- an award-winning, internationally-shown artist -- said the piece was inspired by the book "The Hidden Life of Trees," which in part describes how they communicate through their roots. The goal of the work is to depict how libraries, communities and all of life are networked together.
Barrington Area Library and the Lake Barrington office of Bartlett Tree Experts commissioned the work.
"I thought this was a great metaphor for what a library does," Cooper said Tuesday, "and I feel my job as an artist is to kind of work with metaphors and put them into physical form."
About 80 Barrington-area residents volunteered to help create the public art in eight community workshops that began in July.
Participants brought the old architectural drawings, posters, fabric, cassette tapes and many other recyclable materials to the workshops. As part of the process, they twisted the materials to become sturdy ropes that Cooper is attaching to the atrium's wooden pillars for an extensive web.
Library spokeswoman Karen McBride said the workshops were as much about residents connecting with each other as helping in the art project.
"New people meeting each other for the first time, which I think has been wonderful," McBride said. "I've met some people that I have enjoyed so much in the workshops and learned so much about in those couple of hours. So, we're hoping those kind of relationships build from this, too."
Mark Younger, a certified arborist at Bartlett Tree's Lake Barrington office, said the company's link with the library is natural fit. The company provides a variety of services including insect and disease management, inspections, pruning, fertilization and soil care.
"We're both focused on educational learning," he said.
Christine Esposito, founder of the Terracom communications firm that works with Bartlett Tree, said a similar educational public art display was done as a pilot project last year at Naperville Park District's Knoch Knolls Park.
Six small trees, representing six species native to Illinois, were lowered into place at the park as part of the artistic planting designed to get people thinking about their environmental splendor and value. Designed by artist Jenny Kendler of Chicago, it was called "See the Forest (For the Trees)."