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The Sketchbook Project (Language level B2-C1)

Ottobre 2016
Il vecchio, romantico taccuino dei ricordi rinasce a Brooklyn. Precisamente a Williamsburg, il quartiere più creativo di New York, dove due ragazzi hanno creato uno spazio speciale in cui chiunque può lasciare pensieri, idee ed emozioni a disposizione di chi vorrà leggerle. Tutti sono invitati a partecipare! By Laura Giromini | vivereny.it
File audio:

Steven Peterman
Steven Peterman

Williamsburg is arguably the most creative neighbourhood in New York City these days. Many artists live and work here and, if you go to 28 Frost Street, you will find the Brooklyn Art Library. As the name might suggest, this is a library and art gallery, but it’s also a meeting place and a work space.  And it is the location of the remarkable Sketchbook Project.


The project began life 10 years ago in Atlanta Georgia, the home town of its founders, Steven Peterman (see interview) and Shane Zucker. They invited people to take blank sketchbooks and to fill them with whatever they wanted: drawings, sketches, thoughts, poems and even photos. They then put the sketchbooks on display for other artists and members of the public to consult.  
Three years later the project moved to New York and now the Brooklyn Art Library houses some 30,000 sketchbooks. Contributors come from all over the world and from all walks of life – housewives, lawyers, actors, poets, sculptors, children and retirees


To take part all you have to do is buy a new Sketchbook from the library (this can be done online at Sketchbookproject.com) and send it back once you’ve completed your work. It will then be catalogued and put on display, both in the library and online (if you pay a little extra to have it digitalized).
By bringing the project to New York, Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker have created a space where artists can exchange ideas and find inspiration. “Non-artists” are also welcome. Indeed the idea is to encourage people who have never drawn anything in their life to have a go.


New York can be a pretty bewildering place, but the Brooklyn Art Library and the Sketchbook Project offer a point of reference where people with similar ideas and interests can meet up. If you go there you can take a look at some of the other sketchbooks, but you might also end up spending the entire day creating your own. You can also pass the time getting to know all sorts of different people and, let’s face it, that’s the beauty of Brooklyn.




Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Have you ever been to an art gallery and wished that your work could be on display? Well, at the Brooklyn Art Library that is possible.  Your art won’t be put on the walls, but your sketchbook will be included in the library for other people to consult, both there and online. It’s called the Sketchbook Project and, as founder Steven Peterman explains, it began in Atlanta, Georgia:

Steven Peterman (Standard American accent)

We started the Sketchbook Project in 2006. We just started doing these call for entries and this was one of many projects that we did, and it was the one that just kept growing and when we moved up to New York in 2009 and opened up the Brooklyn Art Library and we kind of just wanted to create a project where anyone could participate, but we also wanted to be kind of an informal gallery space that was non-intimidating that allowed people to participate in art in a way that wasn’t normal. We feel like, when you go to a museum, you leave inspired, but there’s nothing to do with that inspiration, and we hope that you come here, you look at books, you feel super-inspired and then you get to create and like keep the circle going. So that’s kind of one of our missions with the space and with our new space here we’re really trying to just create a community environment where people can come and create work and look at work and just be a part of this creative community in Brooklyn. 


And, if you’re lucky, your work will also go “on the road”:

Steven Peterman

We have a mobile library that will drive round the US and Canada mostly during the summer, and we go to all different types of places. Yeah, I mean, it’s anywhere between just a few handful of cities to a lot more, it just depends on partners that we find and venues that want us to come and things like that, but it’s very similar to the in person experience. At the library we set up and you come up and you search and we pull the books down for you and it’s a very cool community-like event and it’s outdoors and it’s sunny and everyone talks and it’s just like a really great event to come to.


So what sort of people take part in the Sketchbook Project?

Steven Peterman

It’s really anyone. I mean, we have little kids, we have senior citizens, we have professional artists, first time artists. I mean, we’ve had people come up to us who had never made art before and this was the first like step into making art, and then we’ve had people who are like clearly professionals. So, yeah, it’s definitely a huge range of people and I think that’s what makes it really exciting, is that you can find some raw talent, you can find some amazing people, you can find just some really good stories, you could connect with someone in a way that you don’t normally connect with them at a regular museum. And we always like kind of point out that these are all like living, working artists for the most part, so these are people that would probably want to collaborate with you. You can’t necessarily go to the MOMA, and like email that artist and say, “Hey, you want to like make artwork together?” I mean, I think we’re a place that you can do that, and so I think it’s exciting to be able to connect with these people in a different way.

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Call for entries. Opere presentate dal pubblico su invito del museo. Si usa l’espressione call for entry per descrivere una sorta di gara (anche se in questo caso tutti possono esibire le proprie opere).

Kind of. Del tipo. Steven Peterman usa i termini kind of e like quasi in continuazione. Sono molto comuni nella parlata americana contemporanea.

Senior citizens. I pensionati. Questo è una specie di eufemismo, usato per non offendere la gente di una certa età.

Raw talent. Talento forte, potente (letteralmente crudo). Da notare che in inglese crudo si dice raw, mentre la parola crude è un false friend: significa osceno, di cattivo gusto ecc.

MOMA. È l’acronimo che indica il famoso Museum of Modern Art di New York.