Building a Community Book by Book
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (February 23, 2015) Miss Hattiesburg, Ivey Swan, loves the arts – a passion she is sharing with patients and visitors at Forrest General. What looks like a giant bird house sitting near the front entrance of the hospital, is actually something quite unique, though you may not recognize it; this is a library – The Little Free Library.
It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where Forrest General patients and visitors can share their favorite literature and stories. The Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. The project is jointly sponsored by the Hattiesburg Arts Council, Festival South and the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art.
Swan said introducing The Little Free Library to Forrest General is a way to help the hospital fulfill part of its We C.A.R.E. mission of enhancing the patient and visitor experience.
Reading sparks the imagination and the creative mind and when it comes to learning to read, Swan agrees: the younger, the better. Throughout her childhood years, Swan has participated in every area of the arts as a dancer, singer and visual art enthusiast. Now her desire is to instill a love for the arts in others, especially children, who are the masterminds of creativity.
The Little Free Library features an image of “Artie,” a personified paintbrush character who symbolizes a love for the arts. Artie sings, dances, plays instruments, paints, attends theatre events and embraces all the arts have to offer. Swan created the character in 2009.
“I saw Artie as a character that children could relate to. Children are imaginative beings and their passions need to be fed in order for them to grow to their fullest potential as an adult. They are the future of a creative economy in Mississippi and the nation,” said Swan.
In 2011, Artie was introduced at Festival South, a two week multi-genre art and music festival in Hattiesburg. In 2013, over 2,000 parents and adults attended Artie events. In 2014, Artie partnered with the Hattiesburg Arts Council to begin “The Artie Club” for children ages 5-12. The club allows children and parents an opportunity to participate in activities and events to help them learn about the arts.
“I believe EVERY child should be introduced to the arts,” said Swan.
While Swan’s talent, beauty, poise and charm make her an exceptional role model for the arts, she is especially looking forward to gracing the stage this June where she will represent Hattiesburg in the Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg.
An opportunity this lifelong arts advocate is hoping will inspire and make a difference in the lives of many including patients and visitors at Forrest General.
Anyone who would like to donate books can drop them off at the Information Desk in the front lobby of the hospital.