Akin Library to Dedicate ‘The Alternet’ Card Catalog

by Matt Hogan

On Sunday, July 16, “The Alternet,” a collaborative project conceived and organized by artist and sculptor Carla Rae Johnson will became part of the permanent collection at the Akin Library and Museums. The dedication will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Akin building at 378 Quaker Hill Road in Pawling. Members of the public are invited to attend.

In 2010, Carla Rae Johnson purchased an old wooden card catalog with fifty drawers. The catalog sat dormant in her studio for a year and a half while she contemplated how to use it. Finally, the idea emerged to honor its original function: fill the drawers with cards, hundreds of individual cards. That was when she invited the creative individuals she knew to collaborate with her on the project.

More than seventy New York-area artists, writers, and creative thinkers participated in The Alternet. The fifty-drawer cabinet is now home to more than 15,000 multi-media works of art.

The Alternet has been exhibited in fifteen venues since it was completed in 2012. Under the banner “Artists in the Archives,” The Alternet and two other card-catalog projects were installed in libraries, galleries, and colleges in New York and New Jersey, as well as at “BookWorks” in Asheville, NC.

In 2015, The Alternet traveled to libraries in Westchester County, NY, Staten Island, and, then, spent the summer at the Galesburg Civic Art Center in Galesburg, IL. In September 2016, The Alternet arrived at the Akin Free Library and Museums for the sixth annual Meeting Past art exhibition. On July 16, 2017, it will officially become part of the permanent collection at the Akin.

Most who participated in The Alternet created 300 or more cards for the drawers of the card catalog. Some collaborated in pairs or a group to produce 300 cards. All in all, more than 15,000 one-of-a-kind works of art and writing are collected in the The Alternet’s cabinet.

Carla Rae Johnson’s works include drawing, sculpture, conceptual, performance, and installation art. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts 2005 Fellow in Sculpture and a 1990 recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Her work has been exhibited in solo, invitational, and curated shows in museums and galleries nationally and in New York City, and is included in numerous public and private collections. Works by Johnson have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The New Haven Register, and The Journal News. In 2016, after 38 years of teaching art at colleges and universities, Johnson retired from her position as Professor of Art at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY. The artist resides and has a studio in the artists’ community in Peekskill, NY. Additional information can be found on her website:www.carlaraejohnson.org