BEST IN SHOW: Library hosts Northside student artworkPublished 6:54pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013
BATH — The small, picturesque public library in Bath is packed with books, but for the month of November, the library has made room for some new additions: art.
Lining the walls and spread over a table is the work of Northside High School Art 1, 2, 3 and 4 classes — the best works of a new school year with a new art teacher, Joe Burns.
Burns started his students on two separate projects with a show in mind.
“It’s something that I’ve done with P.S. Jones in the past and the community has always received it well. It’s a great goal for the students to have, not only to make work for their parent’s refrigerators, but to have a goal, a show, in mind,” Burns said.
To get the careful and almost photographic pencil drawings lining the walls, Burns had students explore their surroundings and take a new look at buildings they see every day — a barn here, a mobile home there, a store they pass on the way home.
“They took a photograph of a building that was in their lives and recreated it from the photograph that they took, with hopes that having that goal in mind, if they drew a church, maybe the church would want to display it, or if they drew Grandma’s house, maybe Grandma would want the drawing. It gives it a little more substance than just something you would draw, a goal,“ Burns explained.
Burns said using the simplicity of pencil and paper to draw what most would consider commonplace was an education for many of his students.
“The quality of their work inspired some of the students who didn’t necessarily think of themselves as good artists — I think it kind of opened their eyes and made them say ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this,’” he said.
‘Good’ is evident in the work Burns chose for display at the Bath Public Library.
Along with the pencil project was another, involving old books and acrylic paint.
“It was a repurposing assignment — a lot of contemporary artists now are integrating the idea of repurposing objects and materials to create artwork,” Burns explained.
Burns had his students bring in books that had outlived their usefulness at home then asked his students to design a cover, create a title and get to work.
“I asked them if someone was writing a book about them, what would be on the cover? What would be the title? They went to town with acrylic,” he said.
The result is book-like personality portraits of surprising quality.
In his first year at Northside High School, Burns said he had no idea what to expect from these first projects.
“I was surprised by the quality of the work,” he said. “Not knowing the students, not knowing their work, not knowing what to expect, I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the work. The ones who actually took the time to photograph, the ones who had the time invested — I was surprised by the dedication they put in and the time they put into drawing. … But seeing the work they were producing before I got there and seeing the work I got out of them in two months? It’s night and day.”
Bath Public Library hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.