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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – Visitors will soon have the feeling of standing by the railroad when they step into the new exhibit at the Childress County Heritage Museum.
Jenna Manley is helping create the exhibit by painting a wall at the museum for the railroad exhibit.
“It’s going to be multimedia,” said the 22-year-old, who graduated from Childress High School in 2016. “The telephone pole in the foreground is going to have actual wires connecting to another wall to give the viewer the illusion of actually being by the railroad.”
Her fiancé’s father, who is on the museum board, mentioned the walls in the museum needed some color. Manley said she offered to help. She painted a skull of a mammoth above the prehistoric exhibit. Since the board liked how that turned out, she was invited to paint the entire back wall of the museum.
“My experience painting there has been great,” Manley said. “I love painting, and I love helping our museum grow, so doing both at the same time is fantastic. While it’s definitely no Sistine Chapel, I really like how it’s coming together and how it represents our roots and history as a rural town.”
The daughter of Elena Manley, Jenna graduated from West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) with a bachelor’s degree in the English language and a minor in creative writing in May 2020. She also took some painting classes at New Mexico Junior College (NMJC), which is where she discovered her love of art and, more specifically, painting.
“I was terrified of painting at first,” she said. “It’s permanent; there’s no erasers or undo button. It’s messy.”
But when she met Lynda Newman, the professor of painting classes at NMJC, all of that changed, Jenna said.
“She showed me that painting isn’t scary at all,” she explained. “It’s calming, even. I owe her and Bob Ross everything I know about paint and painting tips in general.”
Jenna said she paints frequently in her downtime along with writing poetry and an upcoming novel. Her work has been displayed in the art gallery at WTAMU. She’s also been published in WTAMU’s creative writing journal.
She hopes to paint and write concurrently full time.
“Other than feeling the heat from being 10 feet in the air on a ladder to paint some clouds, this mural has made me feel like a true artist,” Jenna said. “If anyone is looking for a painter, my commissions are pretty much always open.”