Photo: Jacy Lewis/Reporter-Telegram
ODESSA — In the middle of Permian High School is a neglected garden that art teachers and students want to see revitalized. Art and sculpture teacher Luis Trejo-uentes held the first meeting on Nov. 20 to establish a club to combine art and gardening.
“Today we are going to have elections to officially create the Permian Sculpture Gardens,” Trejo-Fuentes said. “We are going to be taking over the account of the botanical gardens. Over the years, they have been left alone so we are going to be taking over this account and bringing the garden back to its former glory. We are going to be rebuilding and replanting a lot of things. We are going to then turn it into a sculpture garden.”
Trejo-Fuentes said he came up with the idea of working on the garden after art students visited the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens and Museum in Austin last year as part of their vase competition.
“We took the art students there and they were playing in the water and building sculptures out of the rocks that were there,” he said. “They got to see professional work by Charles Umlauf.”
He said the garden will serve the school and community in many capacities.
“Not only are the kids going to be building sculptures themselves, but we are working on a program where we will be bringing in professional sculptors, professional artists and have them come donate works to the garden as permanent installations,” he said. “We have never had an art gallery before at Permian, so it will be our very own art gallery and it will be an event space. We will be able to have art shows there.”
The garden is a protected place, which means every plant needs to be preserved, he said.
“The plants that are there, they have to stay there, and we have to keep them alive,” he said. “We want to bring in professionals that can help us bring the garden back to life.”
The garden will provide the opportunity to bring in professionals from the community to help with plant maintenance and permanent art installments, he said. It will also be a learning opportunity for students.
“The garden is going to be run as a student club,” Trejo-Fuentes said. “We are going to have the CAT Art Magazine students and the National Art Honor Society students. We want to invite the FFA kids, Horticulturist Club and other organizations that can come in and help us bring the garden back.”
The garden has a greenhouse that hasn’t been used in years and two small ponds. The art that will be going into the garden will need to withstand the West Texas weather, Trejo-Fuentes said.
“We will be working with things we haven’t gotten to work with before,” he said. “We will work with concretes and might do some living artworks, which is where you shape an artwork out of chicken wire or other materials, then pack it with dirt and add seeds.”
PHS junior Alyssa Elliott is a part of Cat Art Magazine and National Art Honor Society, two organizations that are helping to start the club. She said her love of gardening piqued her interest and pushed her to run for vice president of the club.
“I like the idea of how this would be a little out of the ordinary,” she said.
Eighteen classrooms and one major hallway borders the garden at Permian High School.
Art teacher Pam Burkhaulter, whose room borders the garden, said she misses when students were fully utilizing the garden. She said she loves spending time in the garden, eating lunch outside her room and bringing her students out to draw.
The biggest issue is finding students to continue caring for the garden year after year. Sometimes when students graduate, the next group won’t pick up in their place, Burkhaulter said.
Senior Angelina Romero ran for president of the club.
“I want to make sure that garden is beautiful because I want to make it somewhere for the plants to grow but I also want it to be somewhere for art students to grow,” she said.
Community members interested in getting involved can contact Permian High School, Trejo-Fuentes said.