The College at Florham library has a new exhibit on display, “Shopping Around The World: Three Decades of Shopping Bag Design.”
The exhibit is free, open to the public and will be up through Oct. 28.
The exhibition displays an assortment of designed shopping bags from many cities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It was put together by Eleanor Friedl, curator of special collections and exhibitions.
Friedl is also a reference librarian and selector of print resources in the humanities and social sciences.
“The variety in the designs of these bags make for a visually interesting show and also reflects on many distinct cultural phenomena attributable to their places of origin,” said Friedl.
She continued that the numerous bags were given by colleagues and fellow librarians.
“After shopping at bookshops, museum shops, fashion shops for adults and children, shops for tableware, and for delicacies, some travelers also collect the designed bags in which their purchases were carried. We are pleased to be able to show a selection of them, thanks to the collectors who loaned us their bags,” said Friedl.
An interesting bag from Tokyo is presented from a store called Ginza Familiar, a children’s clothing store.
They used the English word not because of its meaning, but because of its pleasant sound to the Japanese ear, said Friedl.
Another featured bag is from a bookshop in Zurich, Switzerland, called Pinkus Genossenohaft Buchhandlung and Antiquariat.
This store was founded by Theo Pinkus in 1933, when he fled Berlin because he was a Jewish Communist, according to a description next to the exhibit.
Friedl said that this shop was once a gathering place for Marxists, left-wing intellectuals and where spies used to gather during the Cold War.
Friedl pointed out a particular bag from a Japanese men’s store that is silk screen and hand printed.
“It is a real art form,” she said. “Libraries are not just about books. They are about print and design.”
This philosophy is exactly what Friedl tries to bring into the library at the College at Florham through its frequent exhibitions. Artistic value can be found in anything.
A bag from 1985 uses art from a local artist to attempt to show the world, “We’re really happy in our Soviet land.”
And a bag from the world’s oldest department store, Mitsukoshi, founded in Tokyo in 1673, tells the world that some things truly are timeless, Friedl said.
“It is important to learn about what is currently going on in the world with art,” said Friedl.
This is why Fairleigh Dickinson brings art exhibitions into the library, to incorporate other forms of learning.
Friedl brings in a new exhibition every few months, and tries to tie in parallels to what is going on in the world today.
She thought this exhibit was a perfect theme to represent International Education Week, coming up in November.
“These bags were collected by travelers, and we have many more of them. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough room to hang them all,” said Friedl.
She looks forward to the opening of the John and Joan Monninger Center for Learning and Research, the new addition to the library. There will be more room to display exhibitions, and there is even a possibility to hold a number of them at once.
According to the April/May 2011 Inside FDU Newsletter, Campus Provost Kenneth Greene believes that the Monninger Center will provide a dynamic learning environment that supports all levels of interaction between students and faculty and the many ways they engage in the world.
Friedl thinks that the art exhibits will be a great asset to the Monninger Center, and truly align with the goal of providing a global education.
“Regarding the library’s exhibitions, they are often focused on work of international art or design, and often tied to current discussions in the news- cities in the news, countries in the news, and graphic design commentary in international publications,” said Friedl. “This is just one way in which the library actively demonstrates its being attuned to a global view in our educational mission.”
Friedl plans to have another exhibition set up in November. It will be titled, “My Berlin – Two Halves of My Life,” Photographs by Lia A. Wagner.
The title refers to the artist’s native homeland which was divided, East and West, before her birth and during the first half of her life, and then changed, becoming the re-united Germany where she has lived for the second half of her life, said Friedl.