Many of Clarke County’s finest young artists unveiled their best work at the Burwell Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia last week. Clarke County High School art instructor, Kathy Campbell’s thirteen International Baccalaureate students showcased their creative masterpieces at the county’s premiere art showplace as it readies to kick off its spring art season on April 23rd.
“We close the mill after Thanksgiving and then reopen in March,” said Clarke County Historical Association executive director Jennifer Lee. Lee said that CCHA, which manages the mill facility and puts on the spring and fall art sale, receives a 30% commission on each piece of art sold.
“Most of the commission money goes to support CCHA’s operations,” Lee said. “Two percent of the proceeds are used to support the Sarah P. Trumbower Memorial Scholarship fund.”
As CCHA volunteers worked to clean the two hundred year-old structure’s wooden floors and prepare its stone wheel for the spring flour grinding season, Kathy Campbell’s students displayed the fruit of their creative labors for review by an independent IB art program evaluator as well as parents, friends, and public.
“IB students are allowed to develop their own study theme and then go in any direction that they are interested in,” Campbell said. “The goal is for the students to experience what it is like to be a working artist.”
Campbell said that forty percent of IB student grades are based an investigative workbook that each student creates as they explore art concepts and ideas. The majority of the final grade, sixty percent, is based on the actual studio productions displayed by each student upon completion of the course.
“This year we decided to encourage students to work in bigger formats,” Campbell said. “The mill is an ideal place to display the larger works.”
CCHS senior, Clara Thiel stood in front of a collection of her paintings that examine the intersection between anatomy and the natural world. Thiel said that the source of her artistic inspiration isn’t much of a surprise given the influences that have shaped her life.
“I grew up playing in the woods near the Shenandoah River,” Clara Thiel said. “And my mother is a nurse practitioner.”
Thiel said physiology has been one of her favorite subjects in high school and that she hopes to combine her artistic talents with her interest in medicine when she attends James Madison University this fall.
“I’ve been thinking about a career designing anatomical artwork for textbooks,” Thiel said.
Sara Enger, another of Campbell’s talented students, displayed a wide range of artistic styles and approaches that she used to capture her favorite subject.
“I’m an animal person,” Enger smiles. “I’d like to be a zoologist someday.”
Enger, who has been accepted at Ferrum College in southwestern Virginia but is still on the fence about where she will go to school, said that she relishes the freedom that Campbell’s IB art class provides.
“This has been my first chance as a student to explore what I am interested in rather than being told what I should do,” Enger said. “Ms. Campbell has given me the chance to find out what I can do – what I am best at – what makes me happy.”
Enger said that she used many different creative mediums including watercolor, acrylics, lacquer and pens during Campbell’s IB art course.
“Some of the techniques worked and some didn’t,” Enger reflected. “But I learned from the mistakes too!”
Enger recalled as a child always being the student doodling on her papers when she was supposed to be doing classwork. “Ms. Campbell’s class has allowed me to take those doodles off of the paper and put them on the wall here,” Enger said motioning to her many creations on display at the art show.
Enger said that it was an amazing experience to see her own creations displayed in an art show at the Burwell Morgan Mill and credited instructor Kathy Campbell for the artistic guidance and support that Enger relied on during the art course.
“Ms. Campbell is an outstanding teacher,” praised Enger. “She doesn’t tell you how to do things but instead gives you the advice and hints that you need to figure something out in your own way. That’s what I really love about her.”
CCHA executive director, Jennifer Lee said that with the completion of the CCHS IB art show, the next three weeks will be dedicated to set-up and move-in for the 300 artists who will soon be offering their artistic creations at the coming spring sale.
“We’ve received a record number of entries for the spring 2011 Art at the Mill show,” Lee said. “We have artists coming from all around the country, including fifty-five who are new to the show.”
The Clarke County Historical Association’s spring 2011 Art at the Mill show in Millwood, Virginia begins on April 23rd and runs through May 8th. For more information please visit http://www.clarkehistory.org/