Solange’s ‘Saint Heron’ launches free library for rare books

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On October 18, Saint Heron (co-founded by musician / artist Solange Knowles), in partnership with booksellers and Aesop skincare, opened its Saint Heron library to the public for free. Holding 50 titles of rare works, they encourage black creators to consult books for research, study and exploration. The digital collection (you can view them online) offers the sending of physical books on a first come, first served basis.

The library allows users to loan books for up to 45 days and provides material to return the book. Book, in the singular, because only one can be withdrawn at a time. Books include exhibition catalogs, poetry, art catalogs, art, essays, non-fiction, anthologies, monographs, science fiction, literary journals, zines, biographies, photography, astrology, folklore, dramas and psychological fiction. There is literally something for everyone.

Season 1

Each deployment will be classified by season and each season organized by a different person. The inaugural season is organized by Rosa Duffy, founder of For Keeps Books. Atlanta’s Duffy’s Bookstore also serves as a community space. The first season features some very recognizable writers such as speculative fiction novelist Octavia Butler, poet Langston Hughes, activist writer Audre Lorde, and more, but also plenty of new faces for those who know black writers and artists.

“When people ask for the space purpose or mission, it’s real accessibility because it’s all been around for all these years, it hasn’t come out of nowhere,” Duffy told Shantel Pass, the editorial director of Saint Héron. “But the truth is, it’s either accumulated or we just don’t know much about it. The people who know its value are sometimes the ones who hide it from the people for whom it is made.

Duffy explained that often it’s not malicious and can be in very white spaces where readers, academics, artists, etc. black people do not feel welcome. “The library is such that these things that were meant to be in our hands are just in our hands the same way they were printed in the East Village, distributed en masse for $ 1.50,” Duffy said. “It’s kind of what I’m trying to imitate or duplicate. “You can get your hands on it. “

Saint Heron continues to transform

As an artist and with my background in museum studies, I am very interested in some of the exhibition catalogs. Outside of fanzines, these are among the rarest books and provide a snapshot of a moment and a set of ideas as defined by the curator. Unlike zines, exhibition and art catalogs are very, very expensive of the jump. Their price is so high because they only print a few, and the cost of producing photo quality thick paper is expensive.

It is not surprising that the exhibition catalogs also constitute a large part of the selection, as Saint-Héron since its founding in 2013 has been a musical and cultural hub. The organization was founded with the release of a great collaborative album. Since then, Solange and the other members of Saint Héron have performed and exhibited in prestigious institutions. (Something they liked to promote, despite the internal fanaticism that was unleashed.)

The group navigated through visual, auditory, and other artistic spaces and thus shifted to literary feeling as a matter of time. In an interview with Artnet news, Solange explained how traveling across the country to different spaces of black people having conversations about art and the preservation of black art helped them keep going. The most recent phase of Saint Heron’s timed digital projects includes exhibits and more, meaning this new lending library is an arm of the shift to a more multidisciplinary and agency platform.

Learning from other spaces (Cree Solange from Houston Townhouse project – a role model in community art, housing and more), Saint Heron focuses on accessibility. This is something Duffy touched on in his interview earlier when mentioning how many of these books are stored and hidden. Without initiatives like this, these books often gather dust and value but are never valued by readers (including those outside of the author community) and some researchers because the books never reach their hands. .

Although they do talk about the tactile nature of reading and reading these books, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I hope that in future projects some of them can be digitized for even more. access. It can be difficult to resolve with copyright and other potential distribution issues, but I believe in it.

At the time of this writing, many books are already taken, however, the initiative is still worth sharing. The first season ends on October 29, but in the meantime you can sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the site for a warning for next time. Also, take the names of those authors / artists and engage with the non-rare works they have published. Also, bibliophiles, consult For guard books on Instagram!

(Going through CNN, image: Rafael Rios)

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