Rob Sato’s “Paper Trail:” changing FML and art

Rob Sato's “Paper Trail:” changing FML and art

Lehigh University Libraries welcomes a new art exhibition called “Paper Trail” in the EW Fairchild-Martindale Library (FML), displaying 20 works by Japanese-American artist Rob Sato.

The installation is part of the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries programming, which is dedicated to enhancing library services and innovation.

The exhibit is located on the sixth floor south of FML and will be on display through October.

The Paper Trail exhibition by Rob Sato is located on the sixth floor of the Fairchild Martindale Library. The series of works focuses on the artist’s personal and emotional observations of memory and transformation. (Madison DeAngelis/BW Staff)

University Librarian Boaz Nadav-Manes said they chose Sato’s work because it is abstract, allowing the viewer to interpret the pieces.

According to the exhibit information plaque, Sato’s art lends itself to imagery and storytelling.

“I think it’s a great fit for FML because the facilities are there to make people think and be critical and be creative,” Nadav-Manes said. “In a similar form, [Sato’s] art is very approachable and interpretable. When I first saw the art it was a quick fit for FML because this is the way that we look at libraries: some place where everyone in the community gathers.”

Nadav-Manes said the library wanted to incorporate artwork that brings the community together and creates a space for people to gather and appreciate Sato’s work.

Traces of Sato’s heritage can be found in his pieces. According to the exhibit’s information plaque, he plays with color, medium, design and meaning in his art, drawing inspiration from Manga, a Japanese style of graphic art.

Lily Spencer, ’23, connects with his use of color in his piece “Sing Ah,” a watercolor painting on a paper structure. She said the red and yellow tones catch her eye.

“It gives me energy in some way,” Spencer said. “The art I have in my room is similar. I just really like the bright colors.”

According to the exhibit information plaque, some of Sato’s work takes narrative forms, while others are abstract.

Megan Sheerin, ’26, found this to be true when exploring the installation. She said the abstract nature of the work made it so she couldn’t quite tell what she was looking at when observing “Nest II,” a watercolor painting on paper.

“Growerings,” by Rob Sato. The piece is a lithographic print featured in Sato’s exhibition on the sixth floor of Fairchild Martindale Library. (Madison DeAngelis/BW Staff)

According to the plaque, the art explores hyper-personal and emotional observations. Many of the works relate to memory and transformation, which Sheerin said she relates to.

“(“Nest II”) reminds me of a treehouse and it makes me nostalgic for when I was little,” Sheerin said.

Spencer and Sheerin both said the exhibit makes FML’s study space feel different in a positive way.

Spencer said the addition of color to the previously blank, gray walls makes the space more pleasant.

“I think it makes it look a lot less sterile,” Sheerin said. “It makes it look a little more homey. Like a place where you want to be to study.”

Navad-Manes said Sato will be visiting campus on Oct. 3 and 4 to give a presentation and possibly host some workshops.

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