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Art Place students showcase work

The Demopolis Public Library hosted an art show featuring works from students of The Art Place on Sunday, May 7.

Sierra Murphy operates The Art Place, which occupies two rooms in the same building as the Canebakery at 1455 W. Jackson St.

“I have always wanted to do, ever since I started teaching,” said Murphy. “My art teacher talked about doing it, but we never got around to it. I just want the students to experience something like this. I had my art displayed here a couple of months ago and that inspired me to bring my students up and do it.”

Molly Stephens (left) converses with her art teacher and instructor, Sierra Murphy, during an art display at the displayed at the Demopolis Public Library. Murphy teaches art to students at The Art Place in Demopolis.

Some of the young artists’ paintings were for sell, but the show was mainly about displaying the art to the public.

“I think it will let them see that this can be done for a living,” said Murphy. “It can be a profession and not just something to do on the side. It will give them an appreciation for their work.”

The ability to do the art show was a big deal for both Murphy and DPL Director Morgan Allen.

“I’m very, very thankful. I love the library and I love to read,” said Murphy. “Morgan Allen is so sweet. She helped organize this for us, got us cookies and water and I’m very thankful to be able to have it here. It’s a great place.”

“We’re really excited and honored to have the art show here at the library,” said Allen. “Sierra has kind of grown up here in the library and has done some art classes in the summertime. It just seemed like a good fit to have this at the library and especially open it up to the public.”

The library director also talked about the need for activities like the service Murphy provides.

“I think it’s really important for kids to have outlets to express themselves. You never know  what’s going on in a child’s life,” said Allen. “Some may express it through sports and some through art. It’s just great for kids to have hobbies and things to do in the summer to keep their minds going. Also, I think art and literature go really well together. Having the art show here at the library was a good opportunity for the parents and children.”

Murphy began experimenting with art her eighth-grade year of high school. The Pennington native has lived in the Demopolis area for almost a decade and her art interests have only grown. The artist took over the class from her teacher, Mary Long, at the age of 17 on the verge of high school graduation in 2015.

Students range in ages from 5 to 18, but the bulk of students currently enrolled are 13 or younger, according to Murphy. Most students typically start the class with limited skills, but Murphy takes her beginner students through the paces by simply starting with the basics, such as washing brushes, starting a painting by doing the background first and how to properly use a paint brush.

“Just teaching the techniques can take them further, eventually to the point they can do what they want to do,” said Murphy.

The goal for the art teacher is to see her classes grow in attendance and allow her work and passion to touch the lives of others.

“I would love to continue teaching and love for the classes to grow. I’d love to be able to teach more students and share art with more kids,” said Murphy. “I love my job and I love what I get to do. I love teaching kids and I get excited about art.”

The teacher also holds paint parties for adults as well as going to churches and the Canebakery. Murphy also holds adult private lessons.

“Adults are definitely teachable, too,” said Murphy.

While no new art shows are planned for the summer, Murphy will host classes for toddlers, which aren’t normally offered during the summer, as well as classes for regular students.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, May 13, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)