April 30, 2020 - Panola College Art Professor Amanda Clements’ watercolor and mixed media artwork, “Evening Wildflowers,” is on display at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, La., as part of “BLOOM! 2020,” a juried exhibition.
“There were 193 submissions, and only 48 selected for the exhibit, so I was thrilled to be included,” Clements said.
Because of the coronavirus, the venue is closed, but the exhibit is showcased online. The Digital Exhibition Catalogue can be found at http://www.rwnaf.org/events.html while the virtual exhibit video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxbKTj21TJA&feature=youtu.be.
Before the coronavirus crisis, Panola College had planned a field trip to visit the Norton to see the BLOOM! 2020 exhibit and to view the Norton Gardens. The field trip was funded by a grant from the Panola College Foundation.
“I am heavily disappointed that we had to cancel the field trip, but the Gallery has so wonderfully tried to still allow us artists a little spotlight by creating a virtual tour of the works on display,” she said.
Clements teaches art appreciation, drawing, watercolor, acrylics, oils and ceramics to Panola College students.
For the Norton exhibition entry, she chose to work in cyanotype and watercolor. Cyanotype is a printing process that creates a cyan-blue print. She combined both artistic processes to create a mixed media image.
Clements said she grew up watching her mother paint and, with her mother’s help, began working with clay to complete a history project in junior high. That experience sparked her interest in three-dimensional artwork.
“I created a complete Indian village in clay, and later made a Noah’s ark set with the ark and all the animals. I really liked working with the clay that you shaped and then baked in the oven to harden,” she said.
After high school, she started studying pre-med at Eastfield College in Mesquite where she planned to study sonography or nursing. “I was really stressed out in some of those classes, so my mom encouraged me to take a class just for fun,” she recalls. That’s when she rediscovered her love of art.
“In one of those classes, my professor praised my work and told me I should change my focus and major in art. I said, ‘I’m not going to be a starving artist. I need a degree where I can get a job with a steady income.” Her professor persisted and talked to her about opportunities as an art teacher. Clements completed her bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M Commerce and started teaching at Chapel Hill in Mt. Pleasant.
After a summer retreat for art educators at Stephen F. Austin State University, she signed up to be one of the first students in SFA’s new Art Educator’s Master’s Program and completed her master’s degree.
She was teaching art at Hallsville High School when the art professor’s position opened up at Panola College. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to ultimately teach at a community college. I wanted to do what that professor had done for me. She opened the door for me to realize that I could find success doing something that I love,” she said.
To create the artwork that was selected for the Norton exhibit, Clements painted the chemicals ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide onto watercolor paper in a dimly lit room. Once dry, she was able to add watercolors to the piece. She enjoys experimenting with new techniques and sharing her knowledge with her students.
“I’m usually so focused on being the art teacher that I don’t focus on being the artist. Right now, I’ve set up a place to work in the corner of our dining room. I want our children to be able to watch me work with my art the way I watched my own mom paint when I was a little girl. They’re getting to watch me create, and they have helped me with the cyanotype process, so we’re having fun,” she said.