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mixed media (34 projects, over 200 objects)
Artworks inserted into and around the infrastructure of the entire library

Download a pdf guide to Recolecciones.

From City of San Jose Public Art website:

“Recolecciones” is the Spanish word for “recollections” — as in “memories.” It also means “harvests” or “gatherings.” The Latin root “LECT-” from which “recolecciones” derives means both “to gather” and “to read”: the ancient Romans seem to have envisioned reading as a process of gathering up scattered bits of information (the letters of the alphabet) and combining them into meaningful sequences. Readers are thus gatherers, harvesters. The library is a place where people come together to recall and reformulate their common heritage, a place designed for “re-col-lection,” that is, etymologically, “reading or harvesting again together.” The library’s public art collection is primarily designed to support this function.

As part of the City’s ongoing commitment to the arts, the San José Public Art Program commissioned Mel Chin to create an artwork integrated into the new Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The 33 artworks, sited throughout the library, are designed to pay homage to the Library’s book collections. These sculptural insertions are designed to provoke your interest and curiosity, encouraging exploration and circulation throughout the Library. All of the artworks are sited to surprise you and add to your sense of mystery and wonder. They are site-specific, their adjacency imbuing the piece with additional layers of meaning.

The artworks vary from large and dramatic statements to intimate and subtle insertions that may require numerous visits to discover. The Recolecciones artworks include functional installations such as chairs, tables and shelves, as well as wall paneling, sculptural ceilings, curious light projections, and more traditional formal sculpture. Some of the concepts are invested with a sense of humor, while others are designed to encourage contemplation.

Conceptual Acknowledgments:

Lead Team: Mel Chin, Haun Saussy, Robert Batchelor, and James Millar

Other contributors to the conceptualizations of the artworks include over 100 San Jose community members: San Jose City and University librarians; students of San Jose State University and Cooper Union School of Art.

San Jose State University Team: Wendy Angel, Ed Clapp, Francesca Davis, Russell Fan, Carolyn Gerstman, Janet Kang, David Kempkin, Rachel Lazo, Sheila Malone, Masako Miki, Inna Razumova, Rob Spain, Scott Trimball, John Zimmerman, Minging Zhou

Cooper Union School of Art Team: Amelia Bauer, Alejandro Cardenas, Robert de Saint Phalle, Jorge Elbrecht, Nina Gallant, Aimee Genell, Francis Kerrigan, Sam Kusack, Alexander Monachino, Sarah Morgan, Michael Vahrenwald, Allyson Vieira, Donald Tobias Wong

Concept contribution for specific artworks: Alejandro Cardenas, Amelia Bauer, Mary Rubin, Barron Brown, Russell Fan, Robert de Saint Phalle, Biblioteca Latinoamericana Community

For more information, visit the Recolecciones archive on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library website.


Beethoven’s Inner Ear


Tectonic Tables

Sour Grapes

Wise Cracks

Golden Gate


Self Help Mirror

Reflecting Pools (above: 8th floor, below: 3rd floor)

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