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Creative Catalysts: VCU's arts librarians bring varied expertise and perspectives to School of the Arts

February 6, 2015

Nell Chenault, Emily Davis Winthrop and Carla-Mae Crookendale can help you create, teach and find inspiration. Each of them brings a love and appreciation of the arts, related educational credentials and librarian savvy to their roles in VCU's creative community.  

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Nell Chenault, Film and Performing Arts Research Librarian

Schools and Departments Served: Cinema, Dance, Music, Photo/Film, Theatre, Art Foundation, MATX and Film Studies

Expertise/education

  • BA, English, University of Virginia
  • MLIS, Catholic University of America
  • Former Media Librarian and Head, Media and Reserves, VCU Libraries

Areas of interest

  • Intellectual property for media is always an interesting puzzle.
  • My interests are shifting toward intellectual rights in the global information commons. These rights issues impact us as both media and information producers and consumers.
  • Documentaries

What do you like most about what you do?

Media artist Nam June Paik described his work as “archeology of the present” with the goal of circulating ideas, digging them up from the ruin of the past to understand the present. He characterized his work as “priviledged.” I have experienced this through witnessing the works of the VCU community and sharing my knowledge and the VCU Libraries' resources to help faculty and students reach their vision and come to new understanding.

What currently has your attention?

At home, I have been sorting and moving my large vinyl and CD collections, revisiting old favorites and playing overlooked recordings.

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Carla-Mae Crookendale, Visual Arts Research Librarian

Schools and Departments Served: Art Education, Art History, Communication Arts, Craft/Material Studies, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Kinetic Imaging, Painting and Printmaking, Sculpture and Extended Media, Art Foundation, MATX

Expertise/education

  • BFA, Metals and Jewelry/Art History minor, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
  • MFA, Fashion, SCAD
  • MLIS, Valdosta State University
  • Costume shop manager and adjunct faculty, Theater Department, Belhaven College
  • Adjunct faculty, Metals and Jewelry Department, SCAD
  • Reference Librarian, SCAD

Areas of interest

  • Visual literacy, the ability to find, make and ethically use images and visual media.
  • User experience, helping library users have effective and enjoyable experiences in physical and virtual library spaces.
  • Design for good, how design can be used in innovative ways to make the world a better and more beautiful place.

What do you like most about what you do?
Working with creative people in a dynamic and diverse environment, constantly learning and being inspired.

What currently has your attention?
A terrific art, design and visual culture blog called Colossal http://www.thisiscolossal.com/. It’s a great way to discover new artists, and ranges from the quirky (Turn Boring Vegetables into Spaceships and Racecars with Le FabShop’s 3D-Printable ‘Open Toys’) to the whimsical (Artist JeeYoung Lee Converts Her Tiny Studio Into Absurdly Elaborate Non-Digital Dreamscapes) to the awe-inspiring (An Expansive Swirling Snow Drawing Atop a Frozen Lake by Sonja Hinrichsen).

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Emily Davis Winthrop, Arts Collection Librarian

Schools and Departments served: Collection development for the School of the Arts, with the exception of Music. Kevin Farley, PhD., Humanities Collections Librarian, handles collection development for Music.

Education and Expertise

  • BA, Art History, VCU
  • MA, Art History, VCU
  • PhD candidate, Art History (expected Spring 2015), VCU
  • Major field: 19th and early-20th century European art
  • Minor Field: Colonial Latin American art
  • Instructor, VCU Art History department and VCU Glasgow Artists and Writers Workshop

Areas of Interest

  • Epistemology. The core of being a bibliographer is to constantly examine the field of knowledge. What foundations and theoretical frameworks are necessary to make art, to understand art and to teach art?
  • Gender theory and theories of design. My own research focuses on issues of gender in art and theories of design and decorative arts circa 1900. My dissertation, “The Female Nude in Art Nouveau: Allegories of Modernity” looks at the ways in which the nude conveyed a message of modernism and how the form helped to destabilize the categories of fine and decorative art.

What do you like most about what you do? 

You become very myopic in graduate school, I enjoy the breadth and variety that comes with collection development.

What currently has your attention?
Formats. From electronic books and online catalogue raisonnés to 16mm and half-inch video reels, the arts have a variety of necessary formats all with their own issues.

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