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Montgomery Central art teachers exhibit work at Austin Peay Downtown Gallery

For 16 years, Vicki Ranck has taught art to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Montgomery Central Middle School, and she relies on her experience as an Austin Peay State University alumnus to motivate the young artists in her classroom.

We had an excellent art program and professors at our disposal at APSU, she said. I tell (the students) my room is set up like a ‘mini APSU in that there are centers of study to explore.
For 16 years, Vicki Ranck has taught art to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Montgomery Central Middle School, and she relies on her experience as an Austin Peay State University alumnus to motivate the young artists in her classroom.

“We had an excellent art program and professors at our disposal at APSU,” she said. “I tell (the students) my room is set up like a ‘mini' APSU in that there are centers of study to explore.”

Ranck's analogy of a “mini APSU” however extends beyond her classroom to encapsulate the three campuses off Highway 49 that make up Montgomery Central Elementary, Middle and High schools. Or rather, a “mini APSU art department” resides in those buildings because Ranck is one of four APSU alumni teaching art at those schools.

Lauren Martin, at the elementary school, and Mike Andrews and Debbie Harrison, at the high school, also graduated from APSU. The four teachers/artists don't often get to see each other, but next month they'll get together at the Austin Peay Downtown Gallery for a joint exhibition of their work. The show begins with an opening reception on Thursday, July 1 and runs through July 31.

“It is hard for us to find the time to collaborate so this exhibit is a great
way for the four of us to work on a project together,” Harrison said. “I think it is great.”

The four artists will present works in different mediums for the show. Ranck will display her dark landscapes drawn with a roller ball pen on watercolor paper, and Harrison will present her photography and painting.

Andrews will exhibit his sculptures, including new works that experiment with machine parts and foundry patterns.

“I work with stone, clay, metal, wood and just about anything that interests me,” he said. “The work that I appreciate the most is that of the modern artists of the 20th century — Brancusi, Noguchi and Chillida, my mentor Olen Bryant, as well as local folk artists like Edmondson, Bagget and Wickham.”

Martin, who once attended both Montgomery Central Middle and High Schools and studied under Ranck and Harrison, will display her pottery at the exhibition.

“A teacher once told me that the best tools are your own two hands,” she said. “Maybe I knew this as a child, since I have been making pots from mud for as long as I can remember.”

Last year, the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts leased a building in downtown Clarksville to provide gallery space for APSU alumni, such as these four Montgomery Central teachers. The gallery, located at 116 Strawberry Alley in downtown Clarksville, is open from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information on this space or the exhibit, contact Gregg Schlanger at 931-221-7789 or schlangerg@apsu.edu. -- Charles Booth