DHS artists will show their works at the hospital exhibit

Published 1:31 am Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Every three months, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital features works by local artists in its main hallway. Beginning April 5, the hallway will be lined with works from Bill Barley’s art classes at Demopolis High School.

The hospital will host its traditional exhibit-opening reception on Sunday, April 5, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. to introduce the works and the artists themselves.

Barley teaches two beginning art classes and one advanced art class. Most of the artwork will come from the advanced class, some from the beginning class, but some of the artwork will come from DHS graduates who left more than fond memories when they graduated.

“Over the years, I have had students who have left artwork in the classroom — seniors flying out the door,” Barley said. “When they graduate, that’s not one of their priorities. Some of those, I matted. I found one on Monday that was from 1997 that had just been stuck in an old portfolio.

“We’ve had some very good students come through the program. We’ve had architects working now who have gone through the program. One of them, Malin Ulmer, found one of her old works in there on Monday. She left one of her works here when she graduated, so I framed it. She is doing very well with her career, so we’ve got some success stories.”

Many of the students are nervous about showing their artwork publicly, but at the same time, hope to have a strong turnout at Sunday’s reception, according to Chrissy Brooker, the director of public relations and marketing at the hospital.

“The biggest thing is getting them to feel that they can do it and getting them to try,” Barley said. “A lot of them come in with the thought that they aren’t an artist, that they haven’t produced any artworks, especially in the beginning classes.”

Barley said that there is a graduation requirement to get at least one semester of fine arts credit, including courses in visual arts, music or drama.

“We get a lot of students who are not necessarily seeking art, but are in there because they need a fine-arts credit,” he said. “A lot of them are surprised at what they are able to do, because most of them have never done very much [in art]. It’s interesting to see one who didn’t think they could do something, and they do really good work, and they feel good about it, and it’s good to see that.”

The exhibit provides a means for Demopolis students to shine and show their talents.

“At Demopolis High School, we have tried to integrate the arts into our core curriculum,” said DHS principal Dr. Isaac Espy. “We want Demopolis High School to be an arts-rich and culture-rich environment. I think we’ve been successful with that. One only has to walk into the library and look at the ceiling, or walk into our hallways and look at our beautiful murals, or walk into our office and see the outstanding artwork to understand that we value the arts.

“We are very, very proud of our students. We have some very talented students in the performing arts and the visual arts. The bulk of our scholarships are coming through the performing arts, like drama and band, and we are very proud of the direction our school is going in terms of the arts.”

The students’ exhibit can be seen from April 5 through the month of June at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital.