One of my unrealized drawings

Inspired by my visit to the Library Company this spring, I have spent the summer as a Visual Culture Program Intern happily creating new works based on the Schoenhut circus toy catalog from 1917 and the other toy-related materials in the library’s collection representative of the period 1850-1950.

A preliminary sketch becoming a sculpture

For all the things that have gone smoothly, there have been a few others that have not. But trial and error, at least in my experience, are a normal occurrence in the art world. From accumulations of unrealized drawings and ideas, to making the same piece over and over because of an issue with a measurement, to gluing something on the wrong way; it has all happened.

In organizing my schedule, I gave myself about two weeks to work on each of ten toys that I planned to create during my internship. Some sculptures, like the Roly Polys and Rolley Sheep, went smoothly and–as I now know–gave me a false sense of security. When I began work on the more intricate toys, like my cam tiger tamer and voting bear, the pieces took much longer than I expected. Nonetheless, as I reached the final few days of my internship, I wrapped everything up nicely. The final details worked out well, except when I got distracted or tired or rushed and did something not very smart. This happened with my Walking Bear sculpture, the piece representing my final decade of research – the 1940s.

The infamous gear set

I purchased a gear set for the internal mechanics, thinking that I would just build around it. But that proved problematic until I finally figured out a good way to construct an outer design with which I was happy and that would fit around the inner workings. When I finally solved this problem, I glued on the outer layer to form the figure of the bear. A few days later I decided to test the bear.  Great job Jesse! He walks in the wrong direction. I had assembled the gears inside the body backwards. I couldn’t stop laughing. You just have to roll with the punches sometimes as an artist and I have decided he is “backwards” walking bear.

I am incredibly lucky to have had this internship and have learned so much about my craft and myself while working at the Library Company. This summer has been a really wonderful experience and I just want to end this post by saying thank you to everyone at the library who I came into contact with. I have always felt accepted here and I had a wonderful time interning under the Visual Culture Program.

Jesse Lentz
Moore College of Art ‘13
VCP Artist-in-Residence Intern

The Library Company of Philadelphia
1314 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
TEL 215-546-3181 FAX 215-546-5167
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