- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - Jenny Burnham was still a student at Louisiana Tech when she was recommended for an open position at the Masur Museum of Art. When she graduated with a degree in photography, she went straight to work there.

That was four years ago and Burnham needs only three words to describe it: “I love it.”

“I originally was the gallery assistant when I first started here. Then about a year and a half later I was promoted to curator of education and public programs,” said Burnham.

“I plan all our classes and schedule them. I get with the teachers and figure out what they want to teach and when,” she said. “I do tours for schools … I do outreach. I’ll go to different schools and do art projects with them or I’ll participate with summer camps and projects.”

She also goes to community centers to lead art projects at after-school programs.

Working with children isn’t new to Burnham - she started babysitting at 14 and worked at a daycare center all through college.

“I’ve been working with kids half my life,” she said. “I love working with kids. They are so much fun. The things they come up with, their imagination is off the charts. I wish more people would hold onto that childhood imagination. We all had it when we were kids. Every kid that I’ve ever worked with, their imagination is crazy good. And then, somehow we ‘unlearn’ it.”

Burnham, who grew up in Farmerville, said she didn’t have art classes in school, but found her creative outlet in the FFA (Future Farmers of America).

“We did everything from welding to woodworking, so that was my art. I was still able to get out the creativity and learn,” she said. “I made a chest, like a big hope chest. I made it all by myself, I was so proud of it, I still have it.”

Burnham said she always took pictures because she enjoyed it, but didn’t plan on photography or art as a career. When she started at Tech, it was to study chemical engineering.

“I didn’t make it far because it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she said. So she asked her parents whether they would mind if she majored in photography. “They totally supported me, 100 percent. It was the best thing ever,” she said.

Despite the digital revolution in photography and cameras, Burnham said she still loves to take photos with film.

“It’s my favorite. I like to use a toy camera … I feel like it is mine (the photos), with my hands all over it, on every aspect of it. But, I have to send off the film” to be developed, she said.

Burnham mostly uses her cellphone camera now, “because it is so good.” She takes pictures of “anything and everything, whatever is happening. I don’t have a whole lot of time to do it because of work, but sometimes I’ll go out for a walk at my mom and dad’s house. They live in the middle of the woods.”

She’s looking forward to an upcoming exhibit of photos of Poverty Point by professional photographer Jenny Ellerbe.

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