It starts with a few brush stokes, brown swoops on a bright white canvas. As artist Dr. Art Bacon leans over to peer at his subject—a young girl seated on a stool—a classroom full of fourth-graders leans forward to watch him.
Soon, the swoops and swishes of brown paint form the familiar face of one of their classmates, and the students give a round of applause. Bacon smiles as he cleans his brush.
“Whatever you do, never stop practicing,” Bacon said. “Because you are never perfect.”
Bacon, a renowned artist from Talladega, gave a demonstration of his craft to students at Troy Elementary School on Tuesday, April 3, in an event organized by Troy University’s International Art Center. The IAC is hosting an exhibit of Bacon’s work through April 23.
“Dr. Bacon’s series of live painting sessions with Troy Elementary School have served as an enriching event supporting the International Arts Center’s community engagement program,” said Carrie Jaxon, curator of the IAC. “It was a wonderful opportunity for young students to converse with our invited artist as he painted, be inspired by his colorful career, and to learn about the art they can enjoy right in their own community, here at Troy University.”
As he painted in front of the students, Bacon took questions and discussed his long and varied career. Bacon spent 40 years as a professor and dean of the science department at Talladega College. He retired from academia in 2008 and began to pursue his lifelong passion for art fulltime.
It was difficult finding time for art while he worked in science, Bacon told the students, particularly while in grad school.
“I was always looking down a microscope,” he said.
These days, Bacon is turning his powers of observation—which helped him discover news species of protozoa as a scientist—towards capturing the world around him in vibrant, dynamic paintings. Bacon’s art can be found in numerous art collections, including the Birmingham Museum of Art, David C. Driskell Center, Mobile Museum of Art, Alabama State University, Fisk University, New York University, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and in the private collection of Rep. John Lewis.
Bacon said he takes any opportunity to share his passion for art with the public, particularly students.
“Art is my passion, and I enjoy teaching others about it,” Bacon said. “There’s no greater joy than being in the midst of young kids and working with them. They are so enthusiastic.”
To see Bacon’s art on display, visit the IAC 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours are available on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.