By Curt Yeomans
Rex resident, Anne Healy, can see the art in everyday items found in nature, including tree branches, moss, mushrooms, leaves, and dried-out flowers and fruits.
For the last 10 years, Healy's hobby has been to make decorative art out of these things. Sometimes she finds these items in her backyard, and other times, she finds them on the side of the road. For most of that time, it has only been an "off and on" hobby, she said, but she has gotten serious about it in the last two years.
Healy also said each item she finds in nature, by itself, does not give her any ideas of pieces of art to make. It is when all of the items are brought together that she can begin to see the artistic potential, she said.
"I never know what I'm going to make until everything is laid out on my table," she said. "Once it's all laid out, I begin to visualize what it will be. Sometimes, I can do something in 10 minutes. Other times, it takes me a couple of days."
Healy's pieces of art went on display at the Morrow branch of the Clayton County Library System at the beginning of this month, and they will remain until the end of April, according to the branch's Managing Librarian Ruby Alford.
Healy, who works part time in the Clayton County Juvenile Court office, helping coordinate panel reviews for foster children cases, said she has been a patron of that library branch for eight years.
Healy said she went to Alford at the beginning of the year to pitch her artwork for the library's display case. Part of her motivation, she said, was that she liked the displays that were featured at the library each month, but she said she also wanted it to be educational for children.
"I want the children to understand the importance of the outdoors, and nature," she said. "Kids are so focused on being inside, and playing video games, so they don't think about being outside anymore."
The display featuring Healy's artwork is somewhat of a rarity, Alford said, because she usually does not put things on display at the library branch for two months. The managing librarian added that it was not until she saw Healy's work, that she realized it fit for the seasonal period that exists in March and April.
The artwork features several earth tones, including dull grays, browns, greens and dark reds. Baby's breath flowers are used in several pieces of art on display at the library.
"It represents the season," Alford said. "There's still that transition going on between winter and spring, so I thought it was a nice thing to do."
One art piece in the display that is a particular favorite of Alford's, is an angel made out of twigs, tree bark, and baby's breath. "To me, it represents personal compassion," she said. "It's a sign of peace."
Healy said she's had an interest in nature since she was a little girl, growing up in County Louth, Ireland. "I was always picking flowers, and I always loved going on nature walks," she said. "My family lived in the countryside, so we were always aware of when the seasons changed because it could be seen in the fields."
While Healy works with several different things she finds in nature, she said there is one thing she enjoys working with far more than anything else -- moss. "It's got so many shades of green in it, and it's got a fairy tale sort of quality to it," she said.
Overall, though, it is her love of nature, Healy said, that is the reason why she makes the artwork, and then gives it away for free.
"I do it because nature is so important for us to conserve, and it's being abused," she said. "The things that exist today in nature may not survive for our children, or grandchildren, to see."