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Grab a Pencil: Urban Sketching is Back!


Cook Campus. Sketches by Megan Lotts

Remember the Urban Sketching Project at Rutgers? Hosted by art librarian Megan Lotts in last November, this creative project invited students, faculty, and staff at Rutgers to grab an pencil or fire up the iPad and start using that unused part of the brain. No experience needed, suggested Megan in all her posts as well as in the public events she hosted.

Background on the project, along with artwork created, can be found in the Urban Sketching project guide. Participants are encouraged to share their work on social media. Weekly prompts are complemented with drawing sessions, on campus this year, replacing the online, but still inspiring and memorable zoom gatherings last fall.

Clumsy in many ways, I was very hesitant to demonstrate my incompetence when I first tried to draw something last year. However, the encouragement from Megan 9along with the surprise that my husband recognized what I was trying to depict) helped overcome the initial resistance. I literally talked myself into #Rutgersurbansketching via listing why to try, such as stress relief by doodling, the significance of keepsakes in our lives, and even the inspiration to read more, for the same, therapeutical reasons. Art therapy, in all forms, measures up with bibliotherapy.

Like many others, I was afraid of failing or becoming ridiculous with my pathetic attempts, but participated anyway, and it was a great experience. As Megan’s project wrap-up from last year points out, sketching is not different from the scholarly research process. “Both rely on observation, analysis, storytelling, and contributing to community knowledge. To be precise, both processes use a curated set of data and observations to tell a story that will likely turn into something more.”

Creativity can find its way to our lives, especially if we get a little help, supported in a new book entitled Advancing a Culture of Creativity in Libraries: Programming and Engagement, recently published by Megan Lotts. An artist herself, she advocates a culture of creativity in libraries and on campuses. The Books We Read community on the Cook campus benefitted from her imagination, creativity, and vision. Read our interview with Megan about the writing process.

If the artist was willing to write, the writer should experiment with fine arts, even though our artwork may not make it to an exhibit. But I can tell from experience, #Rutgersurbansketching gives you a break from the everyday routine and it’s fun!


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