JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Summer is the perfect time to grab a chair, sit back and relax outside with a good book.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord community is invited to celebrate this summer pastime with a bit of a twist, mixing imaginations with art supplies.

The JBLM School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited and library system is partnering in a literacy and art project titled, “Sit Back, Relax and Read a Book.”

From individual children and Families to organizations and child development centers, the event is open to the entire JBLM community.

Participants are encouraged to find an old chair and transform it into a work of art.

Any type of chair can be used: plastic, wood, benches, highchairs, collapsible camping chairs, broken " anything.

The next step is to use your imagination to come up with a theme for the chair.

Cindy Arnold, professional actress and SKIES director, suggested starting with your favorite book or summer activity.

“You can focus on nature books, fairytales, the solar system, summer vacation " the possibilities are endless,” Arnold said.

Chairs can be painted, drawn on, decoupaged, covered in fabric, hot glued with various items or any other way participants choose to decorate.

There is no wrong or right way to do the chairs, Arnold said.

The idea is to be open-minded while using your imagination. The only requirement Arnold put forth is that chairs must be appropriate for children through age 12.

“Nothing violent or dark, like vampires or some of the other things that are out there,” Arnold said.

When finished, participants are asked to select a place within the JBLM community to display their chairs.

“Because we’d like this to be as big as possible, we’d love it if people could decorate their chair, go out into the community, locate a place they’d like to put it, ask the manager of that place for permission, then let us know where they’ve placed it so we can post a little flyer with it,” Arnold said.

The flyer will include the name of the artist, title of chair, brief description of its theme and an explanation that it is part of a communitywide art exhibit.

Participants not comfortable with placing the chair themselves are welcome to bring it to the SKIES Unlimited building, and one of the instructors will place it in the community on their behalf.

Arnold also requested that artists take a photograph of their chair prior to placement and either email it to her or drop it off with the chair at SKIES.

The photographs will be used at a later date as an art exhibit.

Chairs need to be dropped off or in place no later than July 8.

Arnold said she is passionate about doing projects that connect the community, and this is such an event.

“Everyone has an imagination,” Arnold said.

“Books are something that are shared throughout all of our community, whether it be in the classroom or at home, books and storytelling are a part of our community.”

At a time when children are on break from school, the project serves as a way to keep them feeling connected to their peers while exercising their imaginations.

Seeing one’s artwork displayed in the community " outside the usual classroom setting " can have a profound effect on a child’s self esteem.

“It empowers children when they create something and they see it out there,” Arnold said.

“They know other people are taking it in and thinking about it,” added Laura Ospital, SKIES art teacher.

All chairs will remain on display in their respective locations through the end of August.

On Sept. 1, a celebration will take place at Bookpatch Library from 1 to 2 p.m., where everyone who participated in the project is invited to play musical chairs using the exhibit chairs.

Light refreshments will be served and prizes will be given as the children get ready to welcome a new year school.

All remaining chairs will go back to their rightful owners.

Those who wish to donate them are welcome to do so.

Unclaimed chairs will be placed throughout the SKIES building so that others can view and enjoy them. Although the chairs will leave the community, a photo exhibit will remain.

“It will continue and remain another avenue for conversation and connection,” Arnold said.

Laura M. Levering: