On Display: Morgan County High School Alumni contributes Art to "Legacy Pieces"
It's two weeks into the school year, and the Morgan County High School Art Department has already held an art show.
Paintings, collages, sketches, even three-dimensional artworks graced the walls of the Morgan County Board of Education boardroom last Thursday, and it became clear that local high school art students don't have a problem expressing themselves.
Art teacher Ty Manning recalled how he compelled his students to produce works for the show: "I said, 'We've got an art show, so make art!' And they did."
Dubbed "The Legacy Pieces" by Manning, last week's show centered around the artworks of five of last year's seniors: Gareth Newton, Shelby McLeod, Mary Helen Trulock, Dylan Davis and Christina Turner.
A present in honor of their graduation, Manning gave each of his 10 International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement seniors a canvas on the last day of school. He also gave them an assignment: to create pieces, over the summer, to be used in the show. He got back half of the canvases, all of which will continuously hang in the Board of Education building. Manning, citing the lack of art on the walls in the building, hopes to make this a tradition.
Newton came down from Athens, where he is attending the University of Georgia, to visit with Manning and spoke a bit about his artwork.
"I went to a concert with my girlfriend," Newton said, about where he got the idea for the dancing figures in his artwork. "Then I drew that. I thought it looked cool."
The Keith Haring-inspired painting took Newton three days to complete. When he brought it back to Manning earlier in the summer, the art teacher liked it so much, he borrowed it for a little while.
"I hung it up in my house," Manning said.
Matters of the Art
Current senior Andrew Pittman-Spell, or "Shrooms," as he likes to be called, creates found art, or visual artwork made from items he discovers and collects. One installation includes small Army figurines, among other household-type things.
"I got tired of stuff just sitting around," Pittman-Spell said, "so I put glue to them. A lot of them are anti-war."
A musician as well as an artist, Pittman-Spell has also completely re-hauled electric guitars, from the inner machinery to the outside appearance.
"I got tired of it sitting around with no purpose," Pittman-Spell said, of his once completely broken guitar. "I made art out of it, then I fixed it."
In addition, he had a number of drawings, created strictly with white paper and a black ball-point pen, in the show.
"I just let the pen take over," Pittman-Spell said, of his drawings. "If I think about it, I can't draw well...It's hard for me to see my art with color."
The images just come to him, he said, often a conglomeration of a lot of smaller things. Then, he adds quotes meaningful to him.
"It makes me mad when someone tells me what to draw, to try to put boundaries on my art," Pittman-Spell said.
Senior Hannah Tindol has been in Manning's class since she was a freshman. During that time, she has established that she likes to sketch animals, and that her favorite medium is pencil.
"I have nine dogs and one cat. I like drawing animals a lot," Tindol said. "And I'm not really experience with paint, but I'm very experienced with pencils."
On the other hand, senior Karen Martinez likes drawing people. She admits this while holding her picture of a half-human, half-mangled doll-like face.
"But it depends on my mood," Martinez said. "In this one I was more focused on how people always have a good side and a bad side."
Last year, as a junior, Abby Swanson tackled drawing Bambi and painting in the style of Jackson Pollock. This year, the senior started drawing people, more specifically, her friend, Tony.
"I was looking at pictures on my phone," Swanson said, of how she was inspired. "I'm really close to him, and I wanted to draw him something."
The drawing went over well, especially with Tony, who proceeded to take a picture of the drawing and save it on his phone.
Created in 45 minutes before the eyes of the entire school, the largest piece in last week's show was a painted collage that spanned, practically, from one end of the boardroom to the other, and from the floor to the ceiling.
"Doc said he wanted us to do something creative in front of the whole student body [during convocation]," Manning said. After devising a plan, Manning's Art Dogs broke into groups and painted each individual piece of the multi-panel collage, the students "ran and put it together in five minutes. Everybody cheered."
Definitely NOT a Total Eclipse of the Art
Manning estimates that about 50 people, many of them students, came out to "The Legacy Show" last Thursday. While he organized this one, he has plans to turn the monthly art shows over the his students.
"I'm putting the students in charge," Manning said. "I've already booked where, what time, who."
Ideas for a family show, where students and their parents have art on display, and a "Super-Duper April Fools Extravaganza" are in the works.
Part of a push to make creativity more a part of students' high school experience, Manning also wants to take art students out of the classroom, and out of the county with their art shows. He has ideas for shows at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, and in Atlanta and Athens.
"We're going to push the envelope," Manning said, "and try to do more outside the classroom."
In the meantime, he's pleased with what his students were able to produce for last Thursday's show.
"This much art usually takes until Christmas to do. We did it in two weeks," Manning said. "Round One is done. Now we've got to get ready for Round Two."