- 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.

“I love Jenny Ellerbe’s photography. It is so peaceful and real. It makes me feel like she is on that ground taking that picture, that she is on her knees talking it. She’s a part of it, it’s not just a photographer standing off and taking a picture of it. She immerses herself in it,” Burnham said.

Burnham expects the interest in Poverty Point to bring more people to the museum when “Shared Earth: The Ancient Mounds” opens in late October.

“We have a wide range of visitors. A lot of people come in and they are mostly interested in the house and the history of the house and how beautiful it is. Then a lot are mostly interested in the art. It’s 50-50 really. The house and the art.

Burnham said she learned the history of the house first, and said, “Oh gosh, I love every inch of this house, this building. I love it. From the foot-thick limestone walls outside and all the windows and everything that is original to the house. I love the hidden doorways and hallways that not everybody knows about.”

Burnham, 28, said she doesn’t think about leaving her northeastern Louisiana roots.

“I don’t want to leave the area. I love Monroe, I love the people here, my family is close. I love the museum. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. It’s home. It’s the people I get to see every day and work with every day. We are all friends, we are all family. The morale here is so high, we just all enjoy it.”


Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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