The Daily Gamecock

New project opens doors for Columbia art scene

Unique collaboration promotes literacy, creativity for all ages.

Hidden within the brick walls and high ceilings of Coal Powered Filmworks in the Vista is an entirely different world. Tucked away quietly in the corner, only a few inches tall, stands a cracked wooden red door. It’s bordered by an intricate faded metal design and surrounded by bright green leaves and moss. Silver gears peek through the distressed wood.

Placed directly inside the walls of the business, behind the door created by local artist Christian Thee, there is a lot more than just the bricks of Lincoln Street.
According to Columbia author Janna McMahan, behind the door is a world of word-eating lexophiles, who sit atop bookshelves and munch on the pages of stories.

This collaboration of art and literature is just one piece of the series known as Tiny Doors of Columbia.

Pocket Productions, a non-profit art company in Columbia, has collaborated with local artists, authors and businesses to create a line of small doors that are accompanied by descriptive stories of what lives behind them posted to their website. After years of brainstorming, the project has turned into an artistic scavenger hunt for locals and tourists ready to discover where a new door might be installed.

Sherry Warren, executive director of Pocket Productions said that fairy doors that began to appear in Ann Arbor, Mich. inspired the project.

“We liked what they did, but we wanted to do more than just fairy doors,” Warren said. “We wanted to make it more creative and make different creatures that live behind them.”

With help from Associate Professor of English Ed Madden, who originally suggested broadening the door creatures, and Paula Watkins, former assistant director of The Humanities Council SC, Warren and her team worked to find a list of authors that would be willing to collaborate with artists.

“Since we started it’s been great,” Warren said. “The authors are so excited, and the artists are so inspired.”

Since the installation of a door by author Amy Carol Reeves and artist Kimi Maeda in Frame of Mind on Main Street as well as a drastically different door in Coal Powered Filmworks, Warren said she is overwhelmingly happy about the enthusiasm from artists, authors, businesses and followers of the project. She said she expects to have more than 10 doors installed by the end of the project.

Aside from discovery and promotion of the arts in Columbia, she said Tiny Doors had another goal in mind for the collaboration.

“There’s a literacy goal behind it,” Warren said. “We wanted to get people interested in reading but also get people interested in who these authors and artists are.”
The stories range from literature-loving lexophiles to a drainpipe-dwelling creature, but Warren said that future stories will range from fiction to creative non-fiction and historical fiction.

“We want to make it as broad as possible and accessible for all ages,” Warren said. “It’s not a big commitment to read the story, but it gets them reading.”

Still in its young stages, Warren said the creative possibilities are endless and that this project is what can separate Columbia from other artistic communities.

“Coming in from the outside, you may not think of Columbia as a remarkable city, but as you go into it and begin to talk to people and discover what it’s all about, you realize how fantastic it is,” Warren said. “So that kind of dimension with this project will make people more aware of Columbia and make people feel like that aspect of Columbia is more obvious and overtly commented on somehow, with art. That’s a really big part of our mission: to broaden the audiences of the arts.”


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