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The library’s “Pillars of Light:” A community work of art

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By Nicolette Toussaint

Sopris Sun Correspondent

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Along the north side of the new
Carbondale Branch Library are seven pillars decorated with art glass
— a creation designed by local glass artist Shannon Muse, but
created by more than 20 hands and more than 100 minds.

The work of art, which is called
“Pillars of Light/Pilars de Luz,” contains more than 5,000 pieces
of recycled glass along with Swarovski crystals and metallic-sheened
dichroic glass. Embedded among the pieces of glass are quotes
contained in tiles made of opalescent iridized glass.

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“I couldn’t have done this without
the interns,” said Muse. “They put countless hours into this
project.” At the library dedication last Saturday, Muse thanked her
volunteers by giving them glass hands hung on thong necklaces.

In keeping with the “green” nature
of many materials in the library, the clear, sage-colored background
glass was made from broken shower doors and windows. Muse’s
volunteer interns broke the tempered glass, which separates into
chunks, and then melted those pieces in a kiln to remove the sharp
edges. They individually placed more than 5,000 pieces of this “field
glass” by hand.

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Muse, who works out of her Paradise Art
Glass studio on Sopris Avenue across the street from the library,
earned a commission to create the pillars by winning a community
competition, knowing that money had not yet been raised through
donations to pay for the project. It was, she says, an act of faith
to begin the project hoping that money for materials would appear.

Community activist and public art
promoter Sue Edelstein raised the funds and Muse completed “Pillars
of Light” earlier in the summer. Donors contributed $7,500 per
pillar or in some cases split the cost of a pillar.

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The money was used, among other things,
to buy art glass and crystals from a collection in Denver. Pale
turquoise, blue and pink rivulets of art glass course through the
field glass, looking like rivers running down from snowcapped peaks
through the valley. Muse explains that the streams of colored art
glass symbolize knowledge flowing from books to minds.

Garfield County Libraries and Muse
invited community members to submit the quotes that adorn the text
panels on the pillars, and local citizens responded enthusiastically.
A pillar map available from the library lists more than 100 donors
for the quotes.

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The sayings on the pillars range from
quirky to sublime:

• From poet Mary Oliver: “Tell
me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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• Albert Einstein: “Not
everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts
can be counted.

• Near the Albert Einstein quote is
the number 741.59, which is the Dewey Decimal designation for comic
books and graphic novels.

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• A Groucho Marx quote reads:
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog,
it’s too dark to read.”

Shannon Muse wrapped the seven support
pillars on the new Carbondale Branch Library’s north side with
glass embedded with quotes submitted by community members. One quote
comes from baseball great Yogi Berra and says “When you come to a
fork in the middle of the road, take it.”

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