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Library Celebrates History, Imagination with New Art Installation

There is something new to see in the W.I Dykes Library's Rockwell Room. The library recently placed on display original artworks by local artist Lisa Qualls - specifically a mounted display of several pieces from the artist's "Absence" series. In this body of work, Qualls created variations of vintage photos, using old encyclopedia pages as her canvas, to imagine what three of her ancestors may have looked like.

In her abstract about the collection, Qualls said, "Absence of knowledge can be a powerful force."

Qualls knows very little about the women - a great-great-great grandmother Lily, a great-grandmother Cora Belle and a great-aunt Anna. She had no photographs of the women; all the portraits are born from her imagination, and aim to "exude the personal qualities exposed through [the] process of exploration and introspection."

Executive Director of Library Services Pat Ensor says the "Absence" series speaks to the heart of UHD and the library.

"It's about connecting with our past, even if we don't have a lot of solid information," she said. "Libraries preserve and make available the material that one can use to research or even imagine the past. This is even more important in a community like UHD's, with such a wonderful array of backgrounds."

Lisa Qualls will visit UHD and give a talk about her work on April 21 at 1 p.m. in the Rockwell Room.

The Rockwell Room is reserved for campus meetings and events; however students, faculty and staff are welcome to view the artwork by request at the library's front desk when the room is not in service.