Upper Arlington News

'Memory Boats' at library meant to reflect city's past


A summer exhibit at the Upper Arlington Public Library will present the community's evolution through images and stories of local people, in addition to handwritten memories from patrons.

Through Aug. 11, the Upper Arlington Library's main branch, 2800 Tremont Road, will host "Memory Boats: Community Reflections," an exhibit by Upper Arlington native Elizabeth Fergus-Jean.

Displayed in the atrium and Ohio Room are a total of eight "memory boats" created by Fergus-Jean, the exteriors of which are covered with images and stories from Upper Arlington's past. Those featured include the community's first postman, first school teacher and the tale of the "womanless wedding."

"It's these wonderful stories," said Fergus-Jean, who now lives in northern Michigan and has a doctorate degree in cultural mythology. "They help define the energy, the spirit of the community.

"These boats are reflecting the culture they are in. They're reflecting all these stories."

A second portion of the exhibit, also in the library's atrium, is the "Memory Wall," where Upper Arlington residents and others with ties to the community are encouraged to write about or illustrate some of their own memories.

"The whole intent here is to look at how communities are defined by the stories that are told, the memories we hold," Fergus-Jean said. "It's an interactive piece that will literally only manifest through people sharing their memories and sharing their stories."

The library exhibit is Fergus-Jean's second involving memory boats in Upper Arlington. The other is being displayed in Northam Park, but the 20 boats hanging from trees there are meant to dissolve, like fading memories.

Fergus-Jean said she chose boats for the exhibits because they are the "vessel that takes us through life."

In the exhibits, the boats are carrying stories, she said.

"The intention of all these pieces is to celebrate the history and sense of place of Upper Arlington," she said.

The library exhibit marked a partnership between Fergus-Jean and library officials, including Sara Klein, UAPL digital collections coordinator.

"Each boat bears either a picture collage of photos taken from the (library's) UA Archives or they are stories taken from the book, The History of UA," said Ruth McNeil, UAPL community relations manager.

McNeil said the memory wall portion of the exhibit creates an "evolution of memories and reflections."

"People are drawing pictures and writing reflections and telling their stories," she said.

Additional information about the Memory Boats exhibit is available at www.ualibrary.org.