Lindsay High School librarian Rosanna Webb said she first realized that art can reach a person’s soul when she toured an exhibit by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

“I looked at the paintings and I thought, “I know why people love Picasso. His work is very powerful,” she said.

Webb said she hopes LISD students gain some insight into the history and artistic expression of renowned artists after the school received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in early September.

Webb said the grant allows the school to participate in a program called Picturing America.

According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, Picturing America introduces citizens of all ages to the nation’s history and culture by bringing great works of American art to classrooms and libraries.

A group of 40 color photographs recently arrived at the school.

“These are beautiful, high-quality of paintings, sculpture and photos of architecture,” Webb said. “We get to keep them forever.”

The art includes a photograph of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s water gardens and two works which show antipodal perspectives of the Brooklyn Bridge.

All the works were created by Americans and all portray a glimpse into American life.

One of the paintings, George Caleb Bingham’s “County Election” shows a polling place on the steps of the Saline County, Mo., courthouse.

Webb said the first thing she noticed about the highly detailed painting were the intense colors Bingham chose.

Lindsay High School principal, Phil Hall, had another perspective on the work.

“Did you notice there aren’t any women in it?” Webb recalled Hall asking her.

“I think it’s funny that he noticed that. It wasn’t the first thing I saw,” she said. “But at the time he artist painted it, women were not allowed to vote.”

Looking at art and gaining some insight from the experience is part of its allure, Webb noted.

“Everyone takes something different from it,” she said.

Response from both parents and students has been positive, Webb said.

“I’ve hung several of the works in the lounge, the commons area and the library,” she said.

“Students have all been curious. They come by and look, and you can sometimes hear comments like “That’s cool” or “I like that,” she said.

Webb said she applied for the grant in May and was surprised and happy to learn the school was one of 26,000 chosen to participate in Picturing America.

She said the school’s rural location may have been a factor in the selection process.

For more information on the program, visit the Picturing America Web site at: "http://www.PicturingAmerica.neh.gov" or www.PicturingAmerica.neh.

The NEH will offer Picturing America to more schools and libraries in 2009.

The NEH is currently accepting applications for the program. All eligible organizations in the U.S. and its territories that have not previously received Picturing America may apply for the program through Oct. 31, 2008 at PicturingAmerica.neh.gov.

Picturing America is distributed by the NEH in cooperation with the American Library Association (ALA). For information about the ALA, please visit "http://www.ala.org" or www.ala.org.

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