By Kenney Kost/managing editor
The NE Campus library staff found a creative use for the Title III grant it received this semester, recycling 29 laptops to display artwork.
Library technology manager Ayyoub Ajmi said he has been looking into repurposing the laptops into digital exhibition platforms for some time. When he received the email to apply for the grant, his interest was piqued even more.
“The grant itself is not that much, something like $1,500,” Ajmi said. “We can cover the expenses with the library budget, but I wanted to involve the district and involve more people so the impact is greater. The grant just makes it more official and draws more interest from people to look into the project.”
Most of the projects awarded by the grant are related to math and science, Ajmi said. This is one of the few times the award went to an art project. Ajmi said the goal of the project is to involve students and give them a space to showcase their digital artwork.
“I don’t see anywhere students can go and display their work except through class projects,” he said. “The platforms are open to anyone. You don’t have to be a photography student or an art student. You can create any project, bring it by the library and get it displayed. It will have your name on it, so it’s going to be good exposure and a learning experience.”
Ajmi and library specialist Ronald Ash designed and created the exhibition frames. They tore the laptops down, keeping just the monitor display, motherboard and hard drive. They then purchased the frames through Hobby Lobby.
The laptops are about seven years old and are past the point of updating them for students to continue using. Normally, libraries just replace and warehouse the laptops, he said. This project will keep them in use indefinitely in an engaging way that will save the school money.
The exhibition frames have been set up throughout the J. Ardis Bell library. Three displays are set aside for art exhibition, two spaces with six frames downstairs and one space with five frames on the main level. Others are being set up in different areas of the library and will display information pertaining to that particular section.
Ajmi is working with photography associate professor Patricia Richards and art associate professor Martha Gordon on a program for student assignments to be displayed. Richards said she is excited about its potential uses and is impressed with Ash and Ajmi’s ingenuity.
“When we met for the second time to see the model and how it would work, I was totally amazed. An instant art project was born,” Richards said. “The possibilities for the uses of multiple screens are endless.”
Richards said the project expands the opportunities for NE students to participate. It expands the boundaries for visual representation, going beyond the current gallery options the school offers currently.
The first exhibit is up, which has instructional associate Shane Whitehead’s photography of different industrial components. His photographs capture the relationship between metal, color and form.
“I had been putting together all this photography and didn’t know what to do with them,” Whitehead said. “Displaying them in the library gives me a place to display the artwork and listen to critiques and feedback on the art itself.”
The exhibition frames, Whitehead said, will give students and other faculty and staff a place to explore their own ideas and get them showcased. This will not only give them exposure and experience but also the opportunity for critique.
“The sky is the limit,” Ajmi said. “There are several options for using these frames. This is just where we decided to start. We plan to continue evolving the project and making it better.”
Ajmi is currently accepting applications to display artwork. Anyone interested can complete an application in the library or call Ajmi at 817-515-6624.