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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local artist designs ‘Little Library’ at Carl Maxey Center

Lerlay Paw, left, and Tracy Poindexter-Canton pose for a photo Friday in front of “The Little Magic Fly-brary” at the Carl Maxey Center in Spokane.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

Access to books just became a little easier in East Central Spokane.

The Carl Maxey Center unveiled a colorful, 9-foot-tall “Little Library” Friday night inside the Black-led and Black-centered nonprofit.

Tracy Poindexter-Canton, a local mixed media artist, spent over 100 hours and incorporated 30 different mixed media materials to design the library, dubbed “The Little Magic Fly-Brary” by a Spokane fifth-grader.

“As a reader, I’m particularly touched by this,” said Shari Williams-Clarke, executive director at the Carl Maxey Center.

Williams-Clarke said the Carl Maxey Center received 37 library name proposals from third- to fifth-graders at Frances Scott Elementary School. The center ultimately chose “The Little Magic Fly-Brary,” referencing the butterfly, submitted by fifth-grader Lerlay Paw.

“Lerlay’s captured all of us,” Williams-Clarke said of Paw’s submission.

Kristin Day, principal at Frances Scott, said her students loved the library design and came up with creative names.

“I’m really proud of Lerlay because she is a leader in our school and she has a kind heart and she leads with the heart,” Day said. “And she really exemplifies the work that Carl Maxey Center is doing also.”

Poindexter-Canton said three artists, including herself, designed three libraries that were auctioned at Spark Central’s annual fundraiser last spring.

Spark Central is a Spokane nonprofit that offers learning programs, technology and other resources to people of all economic backgrounds with a focus on the West Central Neighborhood, according to its website.

For her day job, Poindexter-Canton works in communications and grant services at NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101.

Poindexter-Canton said the Avista Foundation purchased one of the libraries for $10,000 and donated it to the Carl Maxey Center.

She said she tries to use as many materials as she can in her artwork, which is what she loves about mixed media.

“There’s really no restrictions,” she said. “It’s limitless possibilities.”

For the library, she used different types of paint, pinwheels, leather and metal strips, plastic plates, wooden gears and glass shards. A large butterfly with a Black girl playing in the center of the insect is painted on the structure.

Poindexter-Canton said she enjoyed creating the piece, calling it tedious but energizing.

“I love challenges,” she said. “That’s the largest piece of art that I’ve ever created.”

Poindexter-Canton hopes the “colorful corner” of the Carl Maxey Center sparks creativity and inspires children to read a book.

“I tried to make it all about the freedom of creativity and there being limitless possibilities within that,” Poindexter-Canton said.

People are encouraged to take a book from the library and donate books to it, the same concept of a Little Free Library outside a home.

The library features children’s and adult books with the focus on books for children written by Black, Indigenous and people of color, Williams-Clarke said.

Williams-Clarke said KSPS PBS donated a significant number of books to the library. Poindexter-Canton said she and her husband donated about 10 books each.