A local artist designs a “mini-library” at the Karl Maxey Center

A local artist designs a “mini-library” at the Karl Maxey Center

Access to books just got a little easier in East Central Spokane.

The Carl Maxey Center unveiled a colorful 9-foot-tall “mini-library” Friday night inside the Black-led, Black-focused nonprofit.

Tracy Poindexter-Canton, a local mixed media artist, spent more than 100 hours and combined 30 different mixed media materials to design the library, which one Spokane fifth-grader called “The Little Magic Fly-Brary.”

“As a reader, I was particularly moved by this,” said Shari Williams Clark, executive director of the Carl Maxey Center.

The Carl Maxey Center received 37 suggestions for library names from third- to fifth-graders at Francis Scott Elementary School, Williams-Clark said. The center ultimately chose “The Little Magic Fly-Brary,” a reference to the butterfly submitted by fifth-grader Lyrly Bao.

“Lerlilai has taken hold of us all,” Williams Clark said of Paw’s surrender.

Christine Day, principal at Francis Scott, said her students loved the design of the library and came up with creative names.

“I’m really proud of Learleigh because she is a leader at our school and has a good heart and leads with all her heart,” Day said. “And it really embodies the work that the Karl Maxey Center does as well.”

Three artists, including her, designed three bookcases that were auctioned off at Spark Central’s annual fundraiser last spring, Poindexter-Canton said.

Spark Central is a Spokane nonprofit that provides educational programs, technologies and other resources to people of all economic backgrounds with a focus on the West Central neighborhood, according to its website.

As for her day job, Poindexter-Canton works in communications and grants services for the 101st Northeast Washington Educational Service District.

The Avista Foundation purchased one of the libraries for $10,000 and donated it to the Carl Maxey Center, Poindexter-Canton said.

She said she tries to use as many materials as possible in her artwork, which is what she loves about mixed media.

“There are really no restrictions,” she said. “It’s limitless possibilities.”

For the library, I used different types of paint, cupboards, leather and metal strips, plastic panels, wooden gears, and glass shards. A large butterfly with a black girl playing in the center of the insect is drawn on the structure.

Poindexter-Canton said she enjoyed making the piece and described it as boring but energizing.

“I like challenges,” she said. “This is the largest piece of art I have ever created.”

Poindexter-Canton hopes the “Color Corner” at the Carl Maxey Center will spark creativity and inspire children to read a book.

“I tried to make it all about the freedom of creativity and having limitless possibilities in that,” Poindexter-Canton said.

People are encouraged to take a book from the library and donate books to it, which is the same concept as the Little Free Library outside the home.

Williams-Clark said the library contains books for children and adults with an emphasis on children’s books written by Black, Indigenous and people of color.

KSPS PBS has donated a large number of books to the library, Williams-Clark said. Poindexter-Canton said she and her husband donated about 10 books each.

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