DAAP Library Exhibits Work from a Local Artist

Mark and slipped disk 1

In early January 2010, Cincinnati sculptor and major DAAP Library donor, Mark Schlachter, delivered one of his works of art to be exhibited at the DAAP Library. The very heavy piece, made of welded cold rolled steel with sprayed automotive finish, is aptly entitled “slipped disc,” but not for obvious reasons. Rather, it’s more of a comment on George Bush Jr.’s 2004 re-election than on what happens to one’s back when one tries to move cold rolled steel.

To learn more about “slipped disk” and about Mark (an ex-librarian/sculptor/radio station manager/photographer) read his responses to five interview questions posed by Jen Pollock:

Question: Who or what was your inspiration for slipped disk?

Mark: in a way i can blame slipped disc on george w. bush…it is an extension of a series including hanging chad, dropped chad and butterfly ballot–all of the pieces deal with discs and holes in square grounds.

Question:How did you create slipped disk? What is it made of?

Mark: slipped disc and its siblings are all fabricated from 1/4 inch cold-rolled steel. since the elements of the pieces were all symmetrical and geometrically defined i had them cut by a steel supplier on a large cnc plasma cutter.

Question: How is this piece like or different from other works of yours?

Mark: much of my work is planar and much is fabricated from flat plate. in the past i have seldom bent, rolled or folded the plate (this is likely to change in several new pieces). while the elements of this and the chad siblings are geometric forms, they are asymmetrical. an artist friend has described the family of work as being disturbingly symmetrical. i am still trying to understand what he really meant.

Question:I hear you used to be a librarian! Where did you study? Where did you work? Why did you leave the profession?

Mark: yes, i was a librarian, and a radio station manager, and a commercial and industrial photographer. my undergraduate degree was a double major of theatre and English. the theatre was almost totally technical–scene design and lighting. there were also undergraduate minors in education and broadcasting. Obviously i had trouble deciding what i wanted to be when i grew up.

library science is the ideal place for the person with many interests. what better person for a reference desk than a renaissance man–or woman? i received my masters in library/information science from Indiana university in 1974. i spent five years with the public library of Cincinnati and Hamilton county. Eventually i was promoted out of work i liked into a position that was akin to what librarians call technical processing. The fun was gone, and i left soon after.

Question: Did you become an artist after your library career or did you always practice art? Any advice for aspirant artist-librarians?

Mark: art has always been part of my life. my father was an architect and a gifted visual artist. my skills with pencil, pen or brush are limited, but my eye and instinct are good which has led to success in photography and working with metals and occasionally wood. I consider myself lucky to have come through the public schools when all boys were required to take 1/2 year each of print, wood, electric and metal shop. my 8th grade metal shop left me with basic skills in gas welding, arc welding, forge work and sheet metal forming. 7th grade print shop was also a very important resource.

I believe that the really good librarians are the truly curious. they want to know more and about more. each day is an adventure for a good librarian because each day exposes the librarian to new thoughts and material. i believe real artists are also curious people–constantly looking for new thoughts, viewpoints, means of communication. the librarian as artist or artist as librarian seem natural combinations.

Jennifer Pollock