Land Studio and Cleveland Public Library Present Figure Ground

The Cleveland Public Library and LAND studio are pleased to announce Figure-Ground, a temporary art installation by Cleveland artist Scott Stibich, in the library’s Eastman Reading Garden. The artwork explores whether people engage differently with a space when bold color is added. Inspired by the garden’s function as a place for contemplation and solace, Figure-Ground introduces playfulness into the beloved public space and seeks to stimulate patrons’ awareness of surroundings they may have come to take for granted.

The concept of figure-ground describes the human brain’s tendency to interpret its environment by creating contrasts. Figure Ground is based on the viewer’s perceptions and not on the objects being perceived, reinforcing interactivity with one’s surroundings.
Using a mirror-like material to outline the edges of the garden, the artwork reflects the movement of patrons back into the space. “As people often move through urban spaces with their eyes on the sidewalk, this reflective surface will create a brief moment of contact between the artwork and those who pass through the garden, even if they are deep in their  own thoughts,” says Stibich.

Stibich further connects the garden’s users with his piece by adding color to the 100 movable chairs located within. “By painting the chairs the same color as the reflective windows, he presents an opportunity for the artwork to be interactive at the most basic level,” says Greg Peckham, Managing Director of LAND studio. “Everyone who moves a chair to create the perfect spot for a lunch break or an outdoor meeting will be part of the project…the occupants of these chairs  become active participants.”

Figure-Ground is the third installation of the See Also program, which brings temporary artworks to the Eastman each  summer. The program—a collaborative effort of the library and LAND studio—is funded through an endowment  established by the late Lockwood Thompson, a longtime trustee of the library and an avid art collector. “The library is excited for the opportunity to bring artwork to the garden and engage with the public in a new way,” says Felton Thomas, Director of the Cleveland Public Library. “We believe that by partnering with LAND studio on the See Also program, we are extending the reach of the library beyond its walls and into the public realm and ensuring that the Main Library remains a destination for Greater Clevelanders.” He notes that Stibich’s project is the most conceptual of the See Also projects to date.

“‘See also’ is a term used in library cataloging which means ‘look here but also look for these related terms which cover  similar topics,’” says Pamela Eyerdam, Fine Arts and Special Collections Manager at the library. “The See Also program adds creative and thought-provoking works of art to the library’s already broad range of educational and cultural programming.”