DOBSON — Art students from Surry Central High School will soon be able to add “collaborated on public space art installation” to their resumes and college applications when they complete several murals they are painting at the Dobson Community Library.
“This is the student’s first time to do a project in a public space,” said school art teacher Stephanie Miller. The district-wide Superintendent’s Arts Contest is usually the only opportunity the students have to see their artwork out in public, she added.
But mural painting is not a first-time activity for all of the students.
“I actually painted one on the wall in my room,” said Lusero Torres, a senior at Surry Central. “My mom doesn’t know. She thinks they’re stickers.” Torres had to pay her sister $20 not to tell, but unlike the mural in Torres’s room, this mural will not be a secret — it will be available for all patrons of the Dobson library on Crutchfield Street to enjoy.
In the children’s area where the new murals will encircle the room, the students decided to focus on “The Cat in the Hat” and “Land Before Time,” giving a nod to childhood favorites Dr. Seuss and dinosaurs. They are adorning the entrance with popular cartoon characters from many decades, going back as far as Popeye and Mickey Mouse, then moving forward in time to Scooby Doo all the way to the near-present with Phineas and Ferb.
In the front room of the library, the students are painting a mural on the large, blank wall behind the public computers.
“We needed something on that wall,” said Salina Zagurski, assistant branch librarian. “That wall was so bland.” The students have painted a large keyhole with several fantasy characters visible through the keyhole linked back to the world of reality on the near side of the keyhole.
Miller said that the fourth-period class painting on Monday was an intermediate class, with some more advanced students. Her third-period class is also working on the project.
The students are working separately with no overarching or controlling vision, making it hard for one to conceive of such a unified project. Still, she said, “The students are unified by common interests.”
Nayeoy Cortes, a junior, working on “Cat in the Hat’s” Thing 1, alongside Lusero Torres, a senior, who was working on Thing 2, further explained the process. “The other class came up with them,” Cortes said, pointing at Thing 1 and Thing 2. “We just upgraded them.”
The students and Moore characterized the interaction of the two classes as “friendly competition,” with one student carefully adding that criticism was constructive.
“Sometimes, it’s a little hostile,” said Erin Weaver, a senior.
Weaver, along with Ciera Antwine, a sophomore, are members of the National Art Honor Society. Weaver, who was working on painting Popeye, is the only one of the fourth-period class with an interest in pursuing art as a career. She plans to study graphic design at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Working on the wall below Weaver, Antwine had chosen to work on Mickey Mouse who had been started by a third-period student. “It’s what I do when I’m not busy messing other things up,” she said as she painted Mickey from a reclining position on a plastic tarp.
The art teacher and the assistant librarian both credited the same person with conceiving the mural project: Renee Moore, a member of Dobson Friends of the Library and also an administrative assistant at Surry County Schools.
“All I did was connect her (Cindy Puckett, Dobson librarian) with the art teacher at Surry Central,” said Moore.
“It started with the Friends of the Library trying to think of different things we could do to spruce up the library that would be inexpensive,” added Moore. “I suggested we contact the local art teacher to see if any of the students might be interested in a service project. I understand it has become much more than that.”
Indeed it has.
The library has remained open while the murals are being painted, and patrons are keen to see the finished product.
“Come back after Christmas. It will be done,” Zagurski has been telling them.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.