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Art major McKinney’s odd job, inspirations for pieces

» By Elena Spradlin

Staff Writer

Senior studio art major Lauren McKinney has spent her winter break as an intern restoring history at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. Each day she works beside two conservators in the preservations lab.

Together they breathe new life into historical documents, most between 200-220 years old, through a process of surface cleaning, soaking in a magnesium carbonate solution, drying and pressing the paper for one to two weeks. Some pages are ripped and need mending, which McKinney spent an entire work day from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. working on. This process is done using Japanese tissue paper with long fibers and wheat glue, which acts as a paste.

Though she typically handles legal documents, such as Tennessee Supreme Court cases and land grants paid to Revolutionary War soldiers, McKinney said, “All the attention to detail and process involved only helps [with being a studio art major]. Not to mention, I find it extremely interesting.”

McKinney first became interested in art during her sophomore year of high school, but didn’t intend on pursuing it in college. When she came to APSU in 2010, McKinney enrolled as a nursing major, a field which she had wanted to enter since she was young.

However, as McKinney said, “After two years of not enjoying my classes and doing rather poorly in them, I took an art class as an elective and knew that’s where I needed to be.”

During the last week of classes her sophomore year, McKinney declared a major in studio art.

Now she is completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in photography and finishing her fifth year, what she says is her “victory lap.”

McKinney says during one of her first photography classes she was exposed to Amsel Adams, an environmental photographer, where photos of birch trees particularly inspired her.

More recently, a lecture by artist France Scully Osterman of the historical photography process duo Scully and Osterman, piqued her interest in wet plate collodion process, which is how photographs were developed in the 1800s.

Currently, McKinney’s favorite subjects are old buildings and people.

Another medium McKinney works in is ceramics, in which she has completed almost as many classes in as photography.

Last fall, McKinney completed a class in ceramic sculpture, and said she loved the challenge of making a bust of a recognizable person.

“I love knowing that from start to finish, my hand was in all of it. I just love the entire process involved.”

After graduating, McKinney plans on moving to Portland, Maine, and working with the various college and church ministries she’s connected with over the last four years.

McKinney’s senior showcase is tentatively scheduled to be at the end of March. TAS

About Elena Spradlin

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