A seat at the table for ART

Winter 2022

When she was in elementary school, Lily Colin remembers entering the Methow Valley Elementary School (MVES) art room and racing to secure her favorite stool, which was painted with a vibrant flower in the style of iconic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. A gift from the departing 6th graders in 2015, the painted stools were intended to enhance the aesthetic of the art room while also providing a teaching tool to help future students learn about O’Keeffe’s work and her role in the American Modernist movement.  (Read more HERE.)

Seven years later, those stools are still employed in the art room, but there aren’t enough of them to accommodate some of the larger classes at MVES, leaving some students to sit on boring old institutional chairs: functional, but not inspirational.

In the serendipitous way that the Methow Valley community often provides exactly what is needed, however, a seating solution presented itself in the form of stools donated by Copper Glance in Winthrop and a student artist—Colin—craving a creative project.

Copper Glance was updating its furniture and wanted to re-home the stools. Colin, meanwhile, had responded to a volunteer need that Methow Arts had posted on Volunteer Methow, seeking help prepping materials for an elementary school project. That particular volunteer need had already been filled, but Colin was tapped to give the old stools new life.

“At first I had no idea what I would do,” says Colin, who credits her creative genes to her mother, 3rd grade teacher Tirzah Quigley, and some of her technical ability to her art classes with Liberty Bell High School art teacher Erik Brooks. “But I have been really into drawing mushrooms lately, I had sketchbooks full of ideas, so I decided that the first stool should have mushrooms on it.” (Colin later added a bright amphibian to the design, thereby turning the four-legged seat into a “toadstool.”)

The other ideas came quickly. A friend’s obsession with koi inspired the koi pond stool. A childhood experience pet-sitting bunnies gave birth to the rabbit moon stool. And so on, until six stools were complete, painted with acrylics and protected by a layer of spray varnish. The project took Colin about 30 hours.

“We are proud that our stools found a new life and purpose with our local students,” says Copper Glance co-owner Chris Hoffer. “Art can be delightfully transformative, turning a simple stool into beautiful expression fostered by Methow Arts.”

Colin’s artistry is not limited to painting, although she admits that watercolor painting was her “favorite pandemic pastime.” Colin reorganized her bedroom during the pandemic, creating an art wall over her bed and moving in dozens of plants, onto shelves she learned to build and install through DIY tutorials.

For National History Day, Colin did a project on Vincent Van Gogh, as well as taking an online art history class, which broadly surveyed art from prehistoric cave art (also called “parietal art”) through the 19th Century. “It was fascinating,” she says. “It made me want to learn about all art movements.”

In addition to meeting the academic demands of a high school junior, Colin is also a member of Liberty Bell High School’s National Honor Society, president of her class, and an employee at East 20 Pizza.

How did someone so booked up find time to complete the stools project? “I painted whenever I had a free moment,” Colin says. “I am so glad to have had this opportunity. I had so much fun with it.