Teaching inspiration: Student/teacher exhibit explores the creative process of art education
by Brooke Carbo
bcarbo@annistonstar.com
Mar 10, 2013 | 3721 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donoho junior Bethany Keel’s painting can be see on the far right. Landrum encouraged Keel to use the sketch, seen in the middle, as the inspiration for her first painting. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Donoho junior Bethany Keel’s painting can be see on the far right. Landrum encouraged Keel to use the sketch, seen in the middle, as the inspiration for her first painting. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
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After eight years of teaching studio art at The Donoho School, Sarah Landrum knows the fulfillment a teacher gains from inspiring a student. But as she puts it, “art teachers are a little different.”

That’s because artists, who are known for finding inspiration anywhere, often find it in the very students they are inspiring.

“The traditional flow of information is from teacher to student,” Landrum said. “I had this vision of an exchange of ideas in both directions.”

Landrum got her chance to explore that vision in “Transpiration,” a student/teacher art exhibit on display this week in Donoho’s fine arts gallery. The exhibit features the work of students and educators from member schools of the Alabama Association of Independent Schools. Donoho is hosting the association’s biennial conference this month. Landrum said this is the first time an exhibit featuring work from across the state has been held in conjunction with the event.

Landrum put out a call for entries last summer, and the response has made for an exhibit rich in variety.

Each teacher “took the theme in a different direction,” Landrum said — some more literally, and others with an unexpected twist.

In the pieces submitted by Tarin Majure, the lower school art teacher at Houston Academy in Dothan, the influence of her students is physical. Majure collected abandoned and discarded masterpieces from her classroom’s floor and trash baskets, piecing them together to create new works of art. The vivid, textured canvases are an example of a literal collaboration of teacher and student work.

Donoho’s submission also highlights the idea of finding inspiration in students’ unintended creativity.

“Sometimes I’m more interested in what the kids do that they maybe aren’t as aware of than what they do for me,” Landrum said.

The muse for Landrum’s “Walking and Flying” series — notebook sketches in wax — is evident when hung next to senior Tommy Lipscomb’s composition book of notes open to a scribble of a tyrannosaurus rex. The artistic value of such absent-minded doodles is further demonstrated in one of the exhibit’s most eye-catching pieces, a painting by Donoho junior Bethany Keel that started as a class exercise to “just listen to the music and draw what you feel,” Keel said.

The resulting medley of doodles surrounding a thick dark swirl should be familiar to anyone who ever got bored during a high-school lecture. Landrum encouraged Keel to use the sketch as the inspiration for her first painting.

The dominant element of Keel’s finished piece, the dark swirling design, still looks familiar, but now has a vibrant polish you don’t expect to find in the margins of your trigonometry notes. The piece is Keel’s first art show appearance, but she says it’s won rave reviews already.

“I took it home and my mom loved it; she hung it up in our house,” Keel said. “Then Ms. Landrum said I had to bring it back for the show.”

But once the exhibit closes next week, the painting will return to its place of honor in the Keel home, “right above the TV.”

Transpiration

Work by Alabama art teachers and the students who inspire them.

What: Student/teacher art exhibit

When: March 11-15, gallery open 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Where: Fargason Fine Arts Center Gallery at The Donoho School

Cost: Free and open to the public
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