To commemorate the library's 100th anniversary, artist Danielle Casali was commissioned to help design and guide Malta community members in the creation of a stained glass mosaic.
The intention of the mosaic was to not only celebrate the 100th anniversary, but also to tell a story about the library and its place in the community.
The process began in February of 2023 with community members meeting to discuss design ideas. Danielle created a design draft based on our input. After some consideration and reworking we began the next phase of the mosaic - cutting glass.
Danielle did much of the labor to prepare for the project: sketching the design, cutting the board and curating the glass needed to create the images. Danielle's guidance was very important as none of us had done this type of craft before. She was a kind and steady leader instructing us on proper cutting and placement of the glass. Over the course of several weeks 30 community members ranging in age from 7-90 nipped, scored, glued and grouted. Along the way we chatted, laughed, and learned about one another and the process of creating a mosaic.
The mosaic is now complete and mounted to the exterior of the building. We hope that the public enjoys viewing this work of art as much as we enjoyed creating it. We would like to thank so many people for helping with this project:
First, the Dekalb County Community Foundation for seeing the value of our proposal and providing the necessary funds to bring it to life.
We'd also like to thank Kris Stark, Erin McNeal, Anne Mueller, Donna Willrett, Rene and Roger McCollum, Stephanie Brezovic, and Emma Scruggs for their commitment to the project. These individuals returned again and again to see the project through to completion.
We'd also like to thank the many visitors that stopped in to learn about the mosaic and place however many pieces of glass they could with what time they had available. Thank you for finding the time to take part in this project. You've all left your mark on this timeless piece of art.
Lastly, we'd like to thank Jerry Jordal Construction for mounting the mosaic on the building. Jerry has quickly earned a reputation for being the go-to guy for hanging murals around Malta. We are grateful for his willingness to donate his time and labor to serving the community.
Some words that come to mind when attempting to describe what is depicted in the mosaic are: magic, fairy tales, imagination, discovery and home. The quote "Someday you will be old enough to read fairy tales again" by C.S. Lewis is fitting because it foretells a time in the future, probably old age, when we will be nostalgic for the imagination and wonder of our youth. It's a reminder that we don't have to "grow up". Books and fairy tales give us the opportunity to revisit the magic of our youth.
When considering design ideas our group felt that the image should represent the library's resources and legacy while also incorporating elements of the community and region. The following is a brief description of some of the symbolism behind the images chosen.
Draco (the constellation) - The most famous story involving Draco tells that he was the dragon that Hercules had to defeat in order to possess the Golden Apples of Hesperides. Draco is also regarded as the dragon who guarded the Golden Fleece, and the dragon that the goddess Athena defeated when the Olympian gods fought the Titans. Draco is also a character from the Harry Potter books. We also just happen to have a very handsome library pet (bearded) Dragon.
The Owl - The owl symbolizes wisdom and learning, both of which we hope you will find when visiting the library.
Ex-Libris - Commonly found on early book plates. Book plates were placed just inside the front cover, illustrating to whom the book belonged.
Apple Tree - When considering images for the mosaic the group agreed that many people associate Malta with apples primarily because of the popular Jonamac Orchard. It seemed fitting to incorporate this image into the mosaic. The stories and myths surrounding apples are too abundant to list. However, for artists and writers apple blossoms not only signify the arrival of spring, regeneration and the wonder of nature, but also a state of innocence, youth and the transitory nature of time.
Golden Apple - The golden apple is an element that appears in various folk legends and fairy tales. Recurring themes depict a hero (for example Hercules ) retrieving the golden apples hidden or stolen by a monstrous antagonist.
Fox, Squirrel - You've heard of the sly fox and the resourceful squirrel? Playful creatures that you might find frolicking around a rural community such as Malta. Frequently characters in children's tales.
White Stag - The White Stag is a mythical symbol across many cultures and appears in many pieces of literature. The white stag played an important role in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe novel. The Pevensie children (now grown-up kings and queens) hunt the Stag, hoping to gain wishes for catching it. It is in their pursuit of the Stag that they stumble back through the wardrobe and into their own world, returned to childhood.
Book Titles - The book titles depicted were chosen because they were quite popular during 1923, when the library was founded. The Malta Library minutes as well as Cornsilk - a publication by the Dekalb County Historical and Genealogical Society were included as an ode to the community and region. On September 30, 1868, the first volume of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was published. This title is included as a nod to the Malta Women's Club who were responsible for starting the library.