By Laura Kraus, Librarian & Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator
If you don’t frequent your local branch of the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL), you should probably take some time on a lazy Sunday to see what’s available: you might be surprised at everything that’s offered. They have programs for adults and children, host musicians and artists and of course they have books! If you don’t have a library card, it’s super easy to get one – go to any of the SAPL branches, present your ID and proof of Bexar County address. You can also pre-register online and get access to online resources.
As a librarian, I was excited to see SAPL has plenty of good print resources about creative reuse, sustainability, and the environment in general. I’ve put together two lists: one for adults and one for the younger crowd. My choices include crafty books to get you inspired to reuse what might be considered trash to some, and turn it into your own personal treasure. I’ve also included informational books to get you thinking about the state of our world, and the ways in which we, as its inhabitants, can make small changes to help out.
So, whether you’re looking for something creative to do on your time off, or a way to introduce a little one in your life to a value of our environment, take a moment to peruse these lists and see what sparks passion in you. #reusegotmethinking
Have any questions? Feel free to contact me (email@example.com) and I’m happy to help.
Young Adult and Children’s Books on Reuse and Sustainability
By Jeanne Cantu, Vice President
Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors
I had the pleasure of recently chatting with Spare Part’s new Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Kraus. Laura is a children’s librarian for the San Antonio Public Library. Her experience and enthusiasm for volunteerism and her recognition and passion for reuse make her a perfect fit for Spare Parts. Laura was born and raised in San Antonio, attended San Antonio College and majored in English at Incarnate Word University. Following that, she graduated from the University of North Texas where she earned a Librarian Degree. When she worked in Austin, she did a blog that addressed environmental perspectives. Now that she’s back in San Antonio, Laura stated that she wants to share her commitment with children to help them realize the power of reuse in today’s world. Laura is definitely an asset to Spare Parts and the San Antonio community!
San Antonio artist/educator Laurel Gibson was Spare Parts’ second virtual artist-in-residence for a #Take5forSA project. The challenge: for the entire month of February, post daily on the Spare Parts Instagram page five discarded items that would, at the end of the month, be creatively reused.
Interviewer Laura Carter delved into Gibson’s creative mind with a discussion regarding the nature of her art & the collaboration with Spare Parts.
When we first met at the Spare Parts Pop Up Shop at SoFlo Market, I asked you what you did for a living. And, you said enthusiastically, “I’m an artist!” Who or what has inspired or influenced you, creatively speaking?
Laurel: I have been making art as long as I can remember. My grandmother was a fashion illustrator for a newspaper in Illinois. My parents did not discourage me expressing myself through, sometimes very different, ways. As a young girl growing up in Arizona, I was fascinated with what I saw around me. I found I could express myself in art, in the act of being creative. I used to make designs from cactus needles, flower petals, things I found lying around. I found a broken watch & used it, with other found objects, to make a figure of a person. (This was the first thing that actually drew praise from my father.) I liked drawing & making sculptures as well. What really influences my art is life. I enjoy the process of bringing an idea or vision to life—making it a reality.
When did you first realize making art was what you wanted to do as a profession?
Laurel: At the age of about 11 or 12, I told my mother I wanted to make art a career. Her response was that I needed to practice. So, I did. I was obsessive in a way. Later, I earned an undergraduate degree in art in Arizona & a Master of Art in Ceramics from the University of Texas San Antonio. I like to challenge myself through artistic expression. Though my focus is ceramics, I work in a variety of mediums. I teach art classes at several different places, including Bihl Haus Arts. I take commissions & work on funded projects.
We are thrilled you chose to share your artistic reuse talents with Spare Parts. What was it that drew your attention to this project?
Laurel: About 50% of my art is created from reused materials. Taking found objects, leftover materials, trash even, for use in an artistic expression. For example, used coffee filters (right) or old piano rolls (left). I saw the first artist doing the #Take5forSA project & thought, “Oh, yeah, I can do this. The most challenging aspect was finding those five items for each day in February, was working it into my teaching schedule etc.” When I took a vacation to Padre Island, I picked up some interesting materials on the beach.
To someone who asks, “Just what are these #Take5forSA pieces used for?” Well, Gibson made unique refrigerator magnets. Great idea! We say it’s a plus the materials are no longer litter or in the landfill.
What might be some of your next artistic challenges?
Laurel: What really drives me is making something impossible happen. I have a commissioned project rolling around in my mind. When I work on a project, I like to remain “ignorant” of what other artists have done with similar challenges so I can get my own inspiration. I think I’d like to get back to ceramics for a bit. I’d like to do more collaboration with Spare Parts as well.