Arts & Culture

Celebrate Kentucky Art With Johnson Classroom, Mural Dedication

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detail image of soldiers moving canon from Ivy Johnson Fleming’s mural “A Call to Arms"
photo of detail of soldiers marching from Ivy Johnson Fleming’s mural “A Call to Arms”

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 4, 2019) University of Kentucky Libraries will host a dedication of the newly renovated David and Kathy Johnson Classroom in the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library starting 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. The dedication ceremony will include the unveiling of Ivy Johnson Fleming’s mural “A Call to Arms,” recently installed in the renovated learning space.

The renovation and commissioned artwork were funded by David Johnson, emeritus UK mathematics professor, and renowned Lexington artist and UK art history alumna Kathy Rees Johnson, longtime contributors to UK Libraries. When the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library opened, they enthusiastically supported former Head Librarian Meg Shaw’s efforts to establish a collection of local artwork for the space. Learning of the need to update the Little Fine Arts Library’s well-used classroom, David and Kathy generously offered to make a gift.

The Johnsons’ gift furthers the goals of Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, UK’s $2.1 billion comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. More than halfway to its goal, Kentucky Can is transforming the quality of life for the people and Commonwealth UK serves.

Working with Head Librarian Paula Hickner and Art Librarian Karyn Hinkle, the Johnsons selected Kentucky artist Ivy Johnson Fleming to create a mural for the completion of the room. The resulting artwork speaks to David and Kathy’s love of music, art and learning.

Fleming’s “A Call to Arms” is a site-specific installation inspired by the idea of books as weapons for change. In this piece, the hand-cut silhouette figures march off to battle wielding weapons made from pages of decommissioned books from the Little Fine Arts Library’s collection.

As a graduate from the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies, Fleming spent a significant amount of time in the Little Fine Arts Library as an undergraduate. “The library was a quiet refuge in the otherwise chaotic life of a studio major,” Fleming said. “The mural pays homage to the power of books in a world that could benefit from a bit more escape and a bit less heavy artillery.”

The classroom renovation is among a variety of updated features to the Little Fine Arts Library this semester. In Spring 2019, the library received one of UK Facilities Management’s “Let’s Make A Difference Initiative” grants to renovate the lobby. Renovations include better lighting, fresh paint and new furniture.

The library was also awarded a Herman Lee and Nell Stuart Donovan Trust Grant to purchase a Victor Talking Machine (estimated date range of manufacture 1906-1920), as well as a supply of recordings and steel needles.

UK Libraries invites faculty, staff and students to stop by the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library to enjoy these new features. RSVPs for the David and Kathy Johnson Classroom Dedication are appreciated: http://bit.ly/35e0RUH.

The Little Fine Arts Library houses collections and services for art, arts administration, dance, music, photography and theatre, and is the home of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music.

For more information about Kentucky Can, visit http://kentuckycan.uky.edu.

Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign is a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. For more information about Kentucky Can, visit kentuckycan.uky.edu.