For decades, Westporters have known Miggs Burroughs as a very talented, always-volunteering illustrator/graphic designer. He’s created Time magazine covers, US postage stamps, logos for countless organizations and events (often pro bono) — even our town flag.
In July, Miggs adds a new title: Westport Library artist-in-residence.
The Staples High School 1963 graduate’s latest role — the first-ever here, and one of the few at any library in the country — comes in conjunction with director Bill Harmer. And it’s a collaborative effort, both stress, with the entire town.
“We’re always looking for new ways to connect the library with the arts, and to strengthen existing artistic relationships and create new ones,” Bill says.
He joined the Westport Library last summer from Chelsea, Michigan, where he developed an artist-in-residence program. Like Westport, that town had a strong arts heritage.
“Who better than Miggs to do it here?” the new director asks rhetorically. “He’s professional. He works tirelessly for Westport. He’ll really tee it up for us.”
Miggs begins with a clean palette. His charge includes:
- Developing innovative programs, involving new ways for artists and others to interact with the library
- Experimenting with making the library more of a key player in the arts community
- Creating a strong presence and resource for the arts in Westport
- Offering workshops, events and programs in the library building — and pushing programs and services outside of it.
You get the idea.
And as with all things Miggs, the artist-in-residence-to-be has plenty of his own ideas.
Some are out of the box.
“We could do ‘Arts Meets Business,'” he says. “The Maker Space is great for technology, and bringing business sense to creativity. We might also have a way to do that for artists. Like a benign Shark Tank.”
He envisions a wall of “photo tiles,” growing every day. Perhaps they’d be selfies, or faces that amateur photographers find in everyday objects. Or maybe shots of “A Day in the Life of Westport,” with everyone in town welcome to contribute.
The library might play host to a Story Corps-type oral history project, or to pop-up studios enabling anyone wandering by to observe artists at work.
Whatever ideas he comes up with, Miggs says, the artist-in-residence program will work only if it’s a joint effort, with the library and town.
“I’m just channeling all this,” he says. “It’s not about me. It’s about artists — however you define that — and everyone they connect with.”
Our new artist-in-residence will not actually reside at the Westport Library.
But his spirit — and that of all the arts in town — will be felt in every inch of the building.