Central High students draw history: 30-year art project continues
Published 8:30 am Monday, January 23, 2023
VICTORIA – It’s happened every year for the last 30. Central High School has produced a yearly project for its art students, a calendar of painted scenes from Lunenburg County’s history. And for 30 years, Jean Kunath has been the one in charge, guiding the students.
“I enjoy helping students with art and teaching them how to work with art,” Kunath said. “Sometimes students come into my classes not wanting to be there, but end up liking it.”
Kunath started teaching in 1983 and has taught students of all grade levels over the years. She wants to help students incorporate important art projects into their lives. Alongside the calendar, Kunath helps create Central High School’s prom decorations and leads other major art projects at the high school.
The idea with starting the now 30-year tradition was to “keep arts in the community and encourage kids to be involved with art,” Kunath said.
Creating the calendar every year is a way to put art into the world. Over time, the calendar has become important to Lunenburg County’s community. There’s an appreciation for the calendar and the local community has become involved in the calendar’s success. The local library has helped sell the calendar and increase exposure for the students. The calendar has also been important in raising money for Central High’s art program. The calendar costs $10. Money raised from selling the calendars helps to give Central High School valuable art supplies and other resources that it needs.
THE APPROACH TO THE CALENDAR
Putting together the calendar each year is a process of working with the community to find old pictures depicting Lunenburg County’s past and present. Every year there are 13 photos selected to be in the calendar.
“Students are very excited about putting together the calendar,” Kunath said. “The submissions vary from year to year, but several of the students have gone on to work in art. The calendar has left an impact on the future of art.”
There are specific art styles applied to the drawings that students recreate from their images. As photos get older, their color tends to fade, so Kunath and her students have adopted an art process that will preserve the color of the scenes for years. The art process of putting the scenes together involves, “using pens that won’t fade,” Kunath said, as “this calendar has used an ink wash process.” The calendar’s pictures are then printed in black and white. Kunath works with her students to print and bind the images into the calendar.
CHOOSING THE CALENDAR’S SCENES
Jean Kunath’s students focus on gathering photos that capture scenes of Lunenburg County.
“I have students ask for old images of Lunenburg,” she said. “It provides a learning experience.” Through the process of finding photos, students are able to delve into the history of the county. The photo collection for the project has almost become an archive, a way to remember Lunenburg County’s past. Kunath has considered this historical collection an opportunity for students to “learn about art, history, and get to work with the community.” Collected photos are representative of all parts of Lunenburg County’s major areas and surrounding towns.
Students go into the community to ask around for old images residents may have. Kunath wants her students, “to gather old lost pieces of the county,” as she’s always seeking out new images of Lunenburg country’s past. The goal is to find historical images that can keep Lunenburg County’s history alive and not lost. The calendar has become a living archive bridged with history and art. There has been a range of photos that students have submitted for the calendar.
EXAMPLES OF IMAGES
Kunath notes that the images aren’t, “always of old buildings,” she adds, as there are “images of individuals participating in things in Lunenburg County.” The images submitted for the calendar gauge scenes of things that have been important to the county. Old images of the railroad history and farm history in Lunenburg have opened up Kunath and her students to long-gone pieces of Lunenburg. Kunath recounts how a student was able to recreate a photo of the train reminiscent of Lunenburg’s railroad history. Students are able to use their art of Lunenburg to bring back aspects of the county that no longer exist. Kunath says, “it’s exciting to see what students search for and bring themselves.” This all adds to the beauty of what Central High School’s calendar can create.
The student search for images has led to important discoveries. In the process of producing the newest calendar issue, Kunath was given old photos taken by Jimmy G. Jimmy G, was an important photographer that would take photos and capture the news in Lunenburg County. “Jimmy G is important to the county and his images are important to the county, Kunath details, “this calendar references him. Jimmy G is a big part of county history.” Since Jimmy G has passed, it was amazing to uncover his unpublished photos. The calendar has been able to archive these photos through its publication.
DREAMS AND FUTURE OF CALENDAR
The calendar has been important to Kunath and she hopes that the calendar continues beyond her time at Central High School. She hopes students will continue to stay involved with the calendar. She wishes that there is continued support for the calendar and other student art projects. Kunath says, “I hope that the county continues to realize the importance of the arts.”
Suzanne Bagia wrote this article for the K-V Dispatch.