By: Shahrzad Rasekh By: Shahrzad Rasekh | October 13, 2021 | culture
Rosa Duffy of For Keeps Books
If you've only read classics written by long-dead white men, you aren't solidly well-read. Luckily, Saint Heron is here to supplement your library with rare and collector's edition books spotlighting powerful voices across a spectrum of identities and lifestyles free of charge.
Saint Heron is a multidisciplinary platform, studio and creative agency established by singer Solange Knowles in 2013. It is a hub for music, arts and cultural conversations that touch on art, design, architecture, fashion and literature. The agency has collaborated with Hauser & Wirth, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Parsons School of Art & Design, Nike, Google and Pitchfork.
Now, it launches a community-oriented digital library, spotlighting Black identity in a mission to preserve, collect and uplift the stories that amplify vital voices.
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“The Saint Heron Library continues the work we have been building by preserving collections of creators with the urgency they deserve," Solange is quoted in a press release. "Together we seek to create an archive of stories and works we deem valuable. These works expand imaginations, and it is vital to us to make them accessible to students, and our communities for research and engagement, so that the works are integrated into our collective story and belong and grow with us. I look forward to the Saint Heron library continuously growing and evolving and over the next decade becoming a sacred space for literature and expressions for years to come.”
This library features texts from radical authors, poets, playwrights and artists in a rotating selection. The first featured collection is guest-curated by Rosa Duffy, founder of Atlanta-based community bookstore and reading room For Keeps Books. More than 50 titles have been selected, including a signed first edition of In Our Terribleness by Leroi Jones, Maren Hassinger, 1972-1991 (a catalog of an exhibition), a signed copy of Austin Clarke's The Meeting Point, Lumumba by Luis Lopez, My One Good Nerve Rhythms, Rhymes, Reasons by Ruby Dee and more.
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Duffy's curated-collection launches Oct. 18 and will remain available into November. Each visitor entering the digital library is invited to take home a book of their choice for up to 45 days, free of charge. The first season of the library is supported by skincare brand Aesop.
“Aesop has a long-standing commitment to literature and the written word,” Aesop Chief Marketing Officer Adam Kakembo states. “As much as literature is an inspiration to us, it also is, now more than ever, a responsibility. By turning select Aesop stores into free Queer Libraries during Pride earlier this year, Aesop aimed to amplify voices of LGBTQIA+ authors, primarily Black and Brown, and reflect on the stories we chose to uplift within our spaces and our community. We hold in high esteem the work of the Saint Heron collective in the urgent preservation of important stories, and when they shared their own Library project it was evident to us we needed to support.”
The Library is the first of many exciting projects to come from Saint Heron, honoring the institution’s mission to reinforce the urgency of building archives.
Season One of the Saint Heron Library exclusively be open excusively to US-based residents. The library is based on a borrowing honor system via online registration. All 50 book titles will be announced on Oct. 18th and will be available at 12 p.m. ET/ 9 a.m. PT. Learn more and participate at saintheron.com.
Photography by: Courtesy Saint Heron