Yinka Shonibare MBE: The American Library

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH

July 14 – September 30, 2018

Production | Exhibition Grant

VIA Art Fund is proud to support the production of The American Library by British artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, an installation commissioned for the inaugural FRONT International, in partnership with the Cleveland Public Library. Shonibare’s project consists of approximately 6,000 books covered in the artist’s signature wax printed batik textile displayed on open bookcases in the Cleveland Public Library. Each book has  the name of a first- or second-generation immigrant to the United States who has made notable contributions to American art and culture embossed in gold on the spine. A web-based component in the exhibition documented featured immigrants and stories uploaded by visitors, considering the interplay among the decoration of the books, the ideas imagined by those recognized, and the tales of movement and migration. The American Library is be a monumental artwork for Cleveland, celebrating the city’s rich tradition of tolerance, inclusion, and artistic excellence.

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is a new large-scale contemporary art program emerging from Cleveland, inviting local, national, and international artists, curators, and scholars to investigate the significance and meaning of staging an international triennial in a contemporary context. Curated by FRONT’s Artistic Director Michelle Grabner, the first edition is titled An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, featuring newly commissioned works and site-specific projects by more than sixty artists throughout Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

For more information, visit FRONT International.


Yinka Shonibare MBE, The British Library, 2014. Hardback books, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, gold foiled names, five wooden chairs, five iPads, iPad stands, headphones, interactive Application and antique wind-up clock. © Phoebe D’Heurle; Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York.