By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Rainbow-colored zebras, rigged baseball toss games, a black-and-white mime, a bearded lady and seals and dogs doing tricks – all images of circuses and fairs, and all images in Tupelo High School’s Art Circus.
The art show, funded by a grant, is on display for a week at the Tupelo High School media center and will then travel to seven schools in the area, as well as the Lee County Library.
Karen D. Barclay, THS visual arts instructor who has overseen the project, said Art Circus benefits not only the students whose artwork is displayed, but the students who will learn from the show and the community, too.
“It’s a win-win-win for the arts,” she said.
Barclay said Art Circus was conceived when her Advanced Placement Studio Arts and National Art Honor Society students asked her to learn more about painting.
With her students help, she wrote a grant – worth just under $1,000, and given to the school by the Association for Excellence in Education and the CREATE Foundation – and the students came up with the idea of paintings with a fair and circus theme.
The students chose various aspects of the fair and circus to paint, such as animals, exotic people, performers, games and rides, and Barclay helped them paint their 18×24 works of art. The grant paid for the quality paints, canvases, brushes and other materials used to make the artwork.
After its week-long showing at Tupelo High, the Art Circus, made up of 29 paintings, will move to seven schools, complete with 200 corresponding lesson plans for the students who attend the show.
For the Tupelo High students, the project has been “a semester and two months worth of work,” Barclay said.
Art Circus’ organization and tour is the senior project for Drew Wilbanks.
Wilbanks arranged the artwork for the show, and has organized its upcoming tour. He will take it to each of the schools and oversee how it is shown at each location.
Wilbanks also has two paintings in the show.
“It’s exciting,” he said, “because it’s the first time I’ve been able to show my artwork publicly.”
Another student showing off her artwork is senior Christina Dooley, who also showcased two animal-inspired paintings in the show. Art Circus is the first time she’s shown her paintings.
“It’s been really difficult but really fun to see it go from scratch to visualizing it,” she said of her paintings. “Everyone’s like, ‘They’re really good,’ and it gives you a really bubbly feeling inside.”
Barclay is already thinking ahead to what could be next year’s theme: music.
She said it’s been exciting to see her students flourish under the project.
“They are jazzed,” she said. “And they ought to be jazzed.”