Fall Flamenco

Margot's artwork
Margot's artwork is at home in the library.

By Eleni Collins - October 26, 2006

The Oak Bluffs Library children's section is a catalyst for young imaginations. Colored by Island artist Margot Datz's illustrations, the section comes alive with dazzling depictions of children reading through time and culture.

The theme of the designs is "the written word from pictograms to printing presses," says Ms. Datz. From a young Babylonian boy chiseling cuneiform writing on a palace to a young girl sitting on her computer chair beginning a Google search, Ms. Datz incorporates many cultures and styles of communication in her library project.

"I remember my own fascination with costumes and exotic places," says the artist. "I thought, I'd love to do a scene that lifted the kids and brought them to far corners of the world. I know how important it is to get kids up and off this rock."

Ms. Datz's painted "stack-ends" depict many periods of history that children learn about in elementary school. Each stack-end pictures a child writing in a style or with a tool particular to a time in history.

Margot Datz
The artist shows our most recent communication trend, the internet.

A Chinese girl stands behind a scroll with black Geta or Chinese symbols, written with a Nib ink-pen. Another young girl dressed patriotically in red, white and blue stands on a coastline waving nautical flags. The girl is reminiscent of Molly, the American Girl Doll. A boy sits at a desk at the Western Union Telegraph office, writing a telegram with a black Labrador retriever at his feet. A Mayan Indian girl carries a baby in a colorful scarf in front of a wall covered in symbols.

Though she was painting for the children's section, Ms. Datz did not let the quality of her work slip. "The one thing I really believe in when painting art for children is I don't paint down to them," says Ms. Datz. "I try to do as if I was painting for adults, because I think that of all audiences, the most critical is children. They notice everything."

Throughout the course of about eight months, Ms. Datz painted over 15 stack-ends and a centerpiece mural, which is hung on the wall above the stacks. The centerpiece is a painting of three ships sailing on the ocean, with written documents hoisted as sails. The Constitution, an encyclopedia, maps, and pages from a children's book are painted on the three-dimensional sails. The written pages sail the ships across Ms. Datz's bright blue sea, stressing her concept of the importance of the written word through time.

The project, done with acrylic paint on medium density fiberboard (MDF), was privately funded. "It was funded by specific donations made by six parties who chose to have their monies used for the Margot Datz project," said Karen Achille, nine-year library trustee and Chairman of the Oak Bluffs Library Building Committee. "Those particular donations were not solicited, they were offered," she added, specifically for the children's section. The names of the donors will be properly recognized on a plaque in the library.