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Do Not Disturb: Art in the Making

Although senior art major Tom Myers has an apartment, most of his time is spent on campus in the Art Building. Partly for studio time, but mostly out of routine. He walks through the small glass doors at the front entrance of the building and takes the stairs on the left to the second floor, then turns left again. At the end of the corridor, a class is in session -- he probably won't be screaming at his art today. That's reserved for days Tom can't focus and the only thing that will allow him to think is cranking up music and verbalizing his frustrations with his work.

Just a few steps past the column of cinder that juts out from the wall, there is Studio 237A. For this semester, half of it is his.

Tom's created a nest kitty-corner to the door -- complete with a desk, loose pencils and paper, stacks of books, an aluminum water bottle and a swivel-chair.

The dark grey-brown cabinet against the wall to the right of the studio entrance is filled with his work: rolled up paintings of shirts and coats, and a small canvas covered in experimental stripes of deep, vibrant blue oil paint.

The cabinet hasn't been opened in a while. Tom has moved on from these works, looking towards his new inspiration.

"The Artist in His Museum," a self-portrait by Charles Willson Peale, was inspiration for Tom's most recent collection of paintings.

"He made this natural history and painting museum- it's full of these weird specimens. I mean look at this," Tom said pointing to a picture of the painting. "He lifts the curtain, but only halfway to just kind of show people- as if to say 'come into my museum.' That's such a ridiculously exciting image."

Across the room, canvases hang from the wall. Strokes of reds, purples and blacks all dance together in what Tom has named "A Compendium of Uncommon Experiences." This is the working title of his series, and is the only accurate definition he and his peers have come up with.

"When I thought about something I would be excited to show somebody, I thought of something like that," Tom said, pointing to his work. "Because those are made of things that I'm excited to show people and talk about."

His series is just a few pieces, but during one semester last year Tom produced over 115 paintings -- not including any of his drawings.

As Myers explains how the painting of a broken-open hand warmer displayed on a table is one of his favorites in his new series, his right leg bounces incessantly. There's no surefire way to justify his energy, since caffeine has never been his thing, but his inability to sit still reflects the high-traffic state of his mind. Painting is his most pursued outlet, but his creativity doesn't stop at the end of the paintbrush.

Tom almost went to college for music. After attending a music composition camp one summer during high school, he put Bradley University in Illinois on his list of college options. He chose Miami, though, because he was drawn in by the art department.

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Tom has an impressive list of instruments he can play (although he is hesitant to brag): piano, guitar, bass, xylophone, banjo, cello, the harmonica and the dulcimer. While he has never owned a banjo, he has an affinity for stringed instruments and has "played a little bit."

Aside from music and art, Tom spent his high school years engaging in a number of activities, including cross country, tennis, speech and debate and a youth group praise band. At Miami, Tom still maintains a full schedule. He writes for Inklings, Miami's literary arts magazine, has recently rebooted the Visual Arts Club and starred in Hopeless Romantic, a musical written by fellow student Andrew Higgins last semester.

"When I have 30 things to do in a week, I can do them and have time to spare," Tom said with a laugh. "But if I have two, I will extend them and they may not get done."

Back in Studio 237A, he moves through the room, shoeless, feet clad in grey, paint-stained socks. He talks quickly to himself, various trains of thought escaping his lips, clicking a pen and tapping stray nails on the walls of the room.

Tom floats to his nest, ruminating on what he believes is the most important part of a piece of art.

"It needs to leave you with questions and considerations and conversations."

Tom and other members of the Visual Arts Club will have their art displayed until Feb. 22 in the lobby of the Art Building.

whalenc2@miamioh.edu

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