By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — FLORA — History is coming to life at the Flora Library through the artistic works of three local artists. Rena Brouwer, Terry Lacy and Alan McConnell, three artists in residence at the Opera House Gallery, Delphi, used their talent to create art that is now part of a permanent collection at the Flora-Monroe Township Public Library.
That history can be viewed through photographs, watercolor or oil paintings and handmade paper landscapes.
Melissa Bishop, director of the Flora Library, hired the three artists to produce the permanent art collection to reflect Carroll County history. The project began in 2011 and was completed at the end of the summer in 2013.
The collection includes 16 art pieces in total, including eight photographs, five water color paintings, two handmade paper pieces and the large oil painting. The artwork can be seen in the Children's Room at the Flora Library.
The central piece, by Terry Lacy, is a 4-by-8-foot oil painting of the Flora library. The painting contains the images of people who were important to the history of Flora or the library.
Lacy, who specializes in handmade paper, said he learned a lot about Flora and Carroll County by studying the biographies of the people in the painting. Lacy worked on a series of sketches and went over them with Bishop until they both agreed on the final direction.
The painting of the Flora’s founding people is important to the history of Flora and the library, Bishop said.
“It’s a tribute to all the people who worked to make Flora the place it is and the people who continue to make it what it is,” Bishop said. “It is also important to teach kids the history they might not have known.”
Bishop described it as not only educational, but a "beautiful and stimulating display." The work represents not only Flora's history but the history of the library itself.
Other staples in the Children's Room at the library include water color paintings, handmade paper pieces and photographs.
Rena Brouwer has five watercolor paintings hanging in the Children’s Room of the library. The paintings feature frogs hidden in lily pads, a sheep, a kitten, a turtle and a horse.
Her favorite part of the project was the painting of the turtle. She felt the painting at the library would be an open door to a child’s imagination.
“As a child, the library was so inspirational to my imagination as I read books,” Brouwer said. “As a visual adult artist, I find visual stimuli sparks my imagination more so.”
The idea to install a permanent art collection came from community interest.
The Flora Library has offered art programs with leadership from Bishop, who has been a strong advocate for arts in the community, Brouwer said. Art programs have increased at the library and were both well received and well attended.
“There is a lot of interest in art in Flora,” Bishop said.
Children in the area also got a chance to get their hands on the art installation with the help of Lacy and a group paper piece. Lacy produced a base sheet and had a workshop where children produced images of plants and animals of the county to go on the paper.
Other pieces on display include photography from Alan McConnell. Two photographs are from the Flora Community Park where people come together for community events. The other six photos were taken inside Adams Mill.
McConnell, who is also a science teacher, wanted to pass along his fascination with machines and their "intricate parts" to others. He described the design of the four-story Adams Mill as "an architectural and engineering marvel."
All three local artists said they were pleased to contribute work to the Flora community. Bishop expressed the joy she had at seeing the project completed.
“I think people see it as a good thing for children to get interested in their local history and to understand there is a lot more to Flora than they think,” Bishop said. “Maybe it will help them get involved in our town.”
Check out the art installation • Children's Room at the Flora-Monroe Township Public Library, 109 N. Center St., Flora • 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday • Call the library at 574-967-3912 or visit www.flora.lib.in.us/ for more information