Art + geocaching come to Columbia’s library


Columbia’s geocachers can now scavenger hunt indoors at the college  library and exchange artwork with their peers.

The Aesthetics of Research, housed in the library at 624 S. Michigan Ave., launched an interactive geocaching exhibit called “ARTCACHE” as part of Chicago Artists Month. 

The event, sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, began Oct. 1. The exhibit starts at the first floor circulation desk and works its way through the many shelves of the five-story building as participants hunt for seven clues about Chicago’s culture, art and history that are part of the cache. After receiving the first clue at the circulation desk, students will be directed to the next clue throughout the library. They could be found in books or on shelves, so the hunt heavily relies on the library’s online catalog and research skills. 

Kristy Bowen, an access services assistant at the library and co-curator of “ARTCACHE,” said the exhibit will allow participants to familiarize themselves with the library’s resources, practice research skills and peruse the items in the game, which are all pieces of art submitted by Columbia students.

“Libraries inform the creative process and bring together the community,” Bowen said.

The exhibit, according to Bowen, encourages participants to replace items they find with new art, making “ARTCACHE” interactive. 

“We can all trade our creations together without this monetary barrier,” said Jennifer Sauzer, the access services manager and co-curator of the project. 

Sauzer, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, said she and Bowen added their own artwork to the cache, initiating the exchange. 

Bowen said the Aesthetics of Research was created in 2014, and this exhibit is one way to make the campus aware of it. 

Sauzer said the purpose of the exhibit is not only to spread art throughout the community but also to increase awareness of the library’s resources.

The Aesthetics of Research rotates student art on a monthly basis in the gallery space on the first floor, which Sauzer emphasized is a result of her hard work. She also said the department has vending machines that disburse local art that always need new art. These are not formally part of the cache, but they started the creative process between art and research.

“The vending machines are meant to be original art that we can exchange with one another,” Sauzer said.

Through “ARTCACHE,” Sauzer  said she hopes to get the idea of community rolling that Bowen also finds creative and fundamental to the library.

“The more artists we get involved, the more people are going to know about what we are doing here,” Bowen said. “That will carry over even after the geocaching is over. We will have more people know we have art shows.”

Sauzer added the library is hoping to gather artists and give students an opportunity to do something fun, which she said also furthers the community and collaborative aspects of the exhibit.  

Alex Murfey, a junior cinema art + science major and student librarian, has gone geocaching around the city numerous times and is looking forward to “ARTCACHE.”

“The library does a lot of events that are only one day,” Murfey said. “I’m excited this event is spread out over a long period of time so anyone can make it.”

The larger Chicago community is welcome to participate in the cache, and Bowen said that was one reason she and Sauzer decided to partner with DCASE and Chicago Artists Month. 

“We want to get more people involved,” she said. “I think [The geocaching] community is bigger than we think.”

“ARTCACHE” runs through Nov. 15, so geocachers still have a chance to get  artwork and be a part of Columbia’s art community.