Reclaimed treasure - Maryville College students create art from castoff furniture

April 2, 2004
by Melanie Tucker of The Daily Times Staff

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Buy it, clean it, paint it and sell it -- a group of fine arts students at Maryville College have done just that and are hoping you are in the market for a new look around the house.

Students of Amy Campbell, assistant professor of art at MC, are learning a lesson in revamping and reselling. They went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Maryville, selected some used furniture for purchase and then took it back to the painting studio in the Fine Arts Center at Maryville College where they are sanding, cleaning and then painting scenes from their favorite artists.

All of the pieces will then be auctioned off at Repaint, a silent auction to be held Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the music hall of the Fine Arts Center. All proceeds will go back to Habitat for Humanity. Freddy Smith of WDVX will host the event. The public is invited to view the students' creations and maybe take some home.

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, many of the students were in the studio getting ideas and getting started. Carly Heyward of Duluth, Ga. was busy with a foot locker. She chose artist George Rodrigue's "They All Ask For You'' from his "Blue Dogs series as her artwork selection. She and the others were using acrylic paints to bring these paintings to life.

This is a way for the students to involve the community in a art project and make art more accessible, Campbell said. The project also serves as a service learning project for her artists, she said. They are raising money for a good cause.

"They have pulled up their sleeves and have not been whining about it,'' Campbell said. "They aren't doing just the bare minimum.''

Jessica Abedi of Knoxville was in the studio early Tuesday painting a piece by Mary Cassatt, on a window. She was learning the difficulties involved in painting on glass but was confident the window would turn out great.

"I'm excited about this project,'' she said. "This is what I like to do, and it's for a good cause.'' She added it is neat to have an art item auctioned, something that she has never done before.

Emily Lawson of Corbin, Ky. chose Phillippe de Champaigne as her artist to duplicate. Friend A.J. Darnell was getting ready to paint Thomas Kinkade's "Hour of Prayer'' on a mirror. It is a very detailed and difficult piece to paint, Darnell said. She was to complete it today.

Nick Bradford of Chattanooga was able to acquire an old gunpowder case from the Habitat for Humanity store and chose a Civil War scene by artist Roberta Wesley to paint on its exterior. Nearby, Whitman Brown of Elizabethtown was climbing under a coffee table, cleaning and painting "Squares with Concentric Rings'' by Wassily Kandisky.

Vincent Van Gogh and M.C. Escher will also be represented in the students' art pieces.

Freshman Cayla Stephenson of Oak Ridge, who said she has been drawing since she was a tiny tike, was busy with Claude Monet's "Parliament'' which she was painting on a mirror. She admitted she has never painted on this surface before and has never done a landscape.

The biggest challenge, this artist said, is "living up to Monet. Or trying to.''

Auction goers will get the opportunity to see just how close she came. And they can tote home some unusual and creative pieces of functional art.