It is a great honor to help support the Berkeley Public Library Foundation with these centerpiece sculptures. As a Berkeley native born into a literary family, I made regular trips to the Library from a young age, and the visits fostered visions of one day making my own beautiful, inspiring books. Those dreams were what led me to open Castle in the Air on Fourth Street, and over the years my staff and patrons have been integral in making those dreams come true.
Throughout my life I’ve made strong statements against “book breaking,” the desecration of bound volumes of knowledge and story for use in collage and other art. In my zeal, I’ve sometimes adopted quantities of books that have truly reached the end of the line. The books you see here were rescued from the pulper, and after some soul-searching I realized that if no one wanted them as they were, perhaps after this transformation they might still be able to educate and inspire. Each of the 30 centerpieces is the collaborative effort of all of us at Castle in the Air, and incorporates 19th-century paper model reproductions that, like books themselves, have a long history of entertaining and teaching.
It is perhaps unfair to single out the talents of any one of the artists who have contributed to this effort but I can say that John McRae has had his hand in every one of the pieces and his unmistakable aesthetic has been integral in unifying the collection of dreams into a whole.
No one understands the impact that literacy and access to information have on our town’s dreamers like the Berkeley Public Library Foundation. That’s why I’m proud to donate all proceeds from the sale of these sculptures to the BPLF.