Third grade students in Webster Parish will have the opportunity to watch an eight foot wire-man come to life during "Kid's Day on the Farm," (April 25 and 26) which has been part of the Spring Arts Festival for the past 12 years.
"Jay Marks is a talented and noted professional artist and art teacher from Shreveport, and we are excited to have him as our featured artist this year," Cultural Crossroads' Chris Broussard said.
Marks, who is a self-proclaimed "Wire Artist" and welder, typically works with sculptures made of wire, found metal and sometimes pipe cleaners.
"I started (creating wire sculptures) when I was three," Marks said. "There is a story my mother tells, about me getting a hold of a twist tie from a loaf of bread. Mom claims I made a bunny rabbit."
What started out as making wire toys has turned into sharing his art-form with children.
"I was embarrassed of my artwork because I thought it was something childish," Marks said. "At first, I would leave my wire sculptures anonymously and wait to see what people would say about it. When I saw people were really interested in my pieces, that gave the encouragement I needed."
Now Marks works at the Renzi Center in Shreveport to encourage others to create and be confident.
"Renzi is a free arts and academic enrichment program, and we are really proud of it," Marks said. "I benefited from personal attention from a lot of adults, and I feel like I need to try and pay them back. I've learned so much from older artists, and I feel like helping young people, especially those who might not be exposed to the arts, is in some way paying back my mentors."
Marks said he wants children to be able to take pride in what they make, rather than getting caught up in purchasing things.
"I think we are a society that expects things to be on a store shelf," he said. "I feel we could do more to foster creativity and it seems to me, we no longer promote ingenuity as we did in the past. In my opinion, that's a shame."
Cultural Crossroads was able to contract with Marks to create a piece of permanent art alongside students during "Kid's Day," thanks to decentralized grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and then Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
The life span of the sculpture, which is made from reclaimed and recycled materials, is expected to be 40 to 100 years.
"Our added mission to promote and create a green space for our community through art and agriculture has been a perfect mix for us, and Jay's work fits right in with that mission," Broussard said.
"Minden is an awesome community," Marks said. "To have the novelty of a small town and have as much going on as it does, it really is a unique place, and I'm glad to be involved."
For more about Jay Marks, visit his website at www.wirewirepantsonfire.com
For more information about Cultural Crossroads or Kid's Day at the Farm, visit their website at www.artsinminden.com, find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/culturalcrossroadsofminden or call Broussard at 927-2888 or 393-5991.