Something Borrowed: A Tree Lights Up Brooklyn Heights Library

Something Borrowed: A Tree Lights Up Brooklyn Heights Library

Brooklyn Public Library unveiled Jean Shin's sculpture Something Borrowed, Something Blue today, marking the completion of the new Brooklyn Heights Library that opened to the public last June.

The sculpture, an illuminated, inverted hanging tree with roots at the ceiling, draws on the tree's symbolism as a sacred symbol of knowledge and its role as the source of paper for books.

Jean Shin's sculpture at the Brooklyn Heights Library. Photo by Gregg Richards

The branches and trunk are wrapped in denim and discarded cords donated by library patrons – a reference to the egalitarian mission of the library, as well as a reflection of the artist's signature style.

Community involvement and repurposing of materials are an integral part of Shin's large-scale sculptures that, as she writes, "reinterpret the complex relationship between material consumption, collective identity, and community engagement."

The shapes of its leaves form the map of Brooklyn, with each leaf representing the neighborhood where Brooklyn Public Library has a branch. Each leaf, in turn, is punched out and illuminated with the title of the most borrowed book in the year the respective branch opened, capturing the history of BPL and popular culture as reflected in the reading habits of Brooklyn's residents.