• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

'Black, White and Read' art show comes to library


JEN DUNHAM shares her Zentangle-style pen and ink drawings at "Black, White and Read," an art show at the Woodford County Library in June. "Not very many libraries have a dedicated gallery . This is dedicated to artists," says Dunham, the library's gallery manager and a lifelong artist. Dunham is pictured working on "March Crow Full Moon" for her upcoming show. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

FULL MOON OF THE LONG NIGHT was drawn on three-by-five-inch cards, which were once in the Woodford County Library's card catalog. Words on the cards support a theme related to December's full moon. (Photo submitted)

Zentangle-style pen and ink drawings created by Jen Dunham will be on display in the gallery at the Woodford County Library beginning June 6. Some of Dunham's drawings for "Black, White and Read" were inspired by book titles printed on cards, which were used in the library's card catalog before that system was computerized. Because several cards typically identified a single book by title, author and subject in the card catalog, Dunham was able to create a graveyard scene using six three-by-five cards from Grave Goods, a book written by Ariana Franklin. She also used cards from The Snowy Day, a children's book written by Ezra Jack Keats, for her drawing of the February snow moon. Using the catalog cards as a canvas for her Zentangle-style drawings happened after Dunham started reading the words on the cards to get ideas for her art. She and her library colleagues had been using the cards for scrap paper so many were thrown away. Other cards have handwritten notes on them. "So there's just all this history right there," says Dunham. In conjunction with her "Black, White and Read" art show, Dunham will teach a "Zen Doodles Easy Drawing Workshop" every Monday evening in June at 6 for anyone who wants to try a relaxing and easy-to-learn method of expressing their creativity with structured patterns known as Zentangles. ".You can actually do these patterns and have a nice little piece of art done in about 20 to 30 minutes," explains Dunham, who has taught two previous small workshops on Zentangle-style art at the library. Even adults who say, "I can't draw," are amazed by what they can create on a three-by-three-inch card using the Zentangle Method. Dunham says the three-by-three cards - the traditional size for Zentagles - can be displayed individually or together as one art piece. "It invariably turns out good," she says. "It's just really stunning," she continues. "And people that have never drawn before can do really beautiful things" with Zentangle-style art. Artwork created by her students will be added to the "Black, White and Read" show so they can share their art with friends and family during a closing reception at the Woodford County Library. Because space is limited and supplies are provided, call the library at 873-5191 to sign up for the free Zen Doodles Easy Drawing Workshop. The four-week workshop for beginners is taught on Mondays in June, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 'Your mind is focused' Dunham, the library's Rich Gallery manager, says she became "really intrigued" with the Zentangle Method while taking a journaling workshop at the Lexington Art League several years ago. An art teacher from Morehead State University, who also attended the workshop, brought a sketchbook filled with her Zentangles. So when Dunham got home, she searched the Internet for information about Zentangle - an easy-to-learn, relaxing way to create images by drawing structured patterns - and discovered an art movement happening all over the world. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, founders of the Zantangle Method, say the repetitive steps for creating their art support relaxation, inspiration and focus. "When you're doodling, it's random and you're not really focused on anything," explains Dunham. "But when you're doing a repetitive design like Zentangles, your mind is focused on that and it helps you clear out all the junk in your mind." Relying on her background in art, Dunham was able to learn the Zentangle Method by using a kit and watching a DVD, which she purchased from the Zentangle.com website. Dunham also plans to participate in a workshop on the Zentangle Method in New Hampshire so she can become an official instructor. "I'm on the wait list," she says. Dunham takes her sketchbook to the annual Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives (KDLA) conference because the repetitive patterns of Zentangles allow her to focus on learning about the newest trends in public libraries. "If I can do the Zentangle Method," says Dunham, "I can remember what they've said." By focusing on a structured pattern, she's not allowing her mind to drift and become distracted by other life responsibilities. Dunham also does Zentangle-style art while listening to audio books "and I can remember them so much better," she says. Before she came to the Woodford County Library in 1999, Dunham was a designer in a stained glass studio for almost 10 years. Her specialty became designing and cutting glass for sun catchers. "When sunlight comes through glass," says Dunham, ".there's nothing like it. You can't get paint . or anything" else to look like sunlight. Dunham hopes to get back into stained glass art at some point, but for now she's enjoying Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA), which allows her to incorporate repetitive design with creativity in her pen and ink drawings. "I like the combination of realism and abstraction so that it kind of flows into each other," says Dunham. So those who visit "Black, White and Read" can expect to see artwork that's both very realistic and abstract. Art has been a part of Dunham's life since before she knew how to read or write. She earned a bachelor's degree in art education from Ball State University and has attended tons of art workshops over the years too. "If you want to do art, you can't not do it," she says. "There's no choice. You'll find yourself doing it . You're thinking about it all the time." So when something catches Dunham's eye outside, she finds herself composing that next piece of artwork in her mind because "you just can't stop."

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