If you go
What: "Life is much too important to take seriously ... " exhibit
When: This summer. See Norlin Library hours here.
Where: Norlin Library, University of Colorado campus, east entrance lobby
Jessie Taylor knows there's something to the old cliche: "There's more to a person than meets the eye."
Most students and faculty members who pass her while she's pulling weeds or tending to the flowers on the University of Colorado campus don't realize that she's more than a member of the grounds crew — she's also an artist.
An exhibit of Taylor's art titled "Life is much too important to take seriously ... " is on display at the Norlin Library this summer, and Taylor said she hopes her art will make people think a little differently about the world around them.
The exhibit is also a chance to challenge assumptions some people may have about the staff on campus, the "unsung heroes" who dedicate countless hours to making the university clean and inviting, Taylor said.
Her art is made with found objects, some from thrift shops and some from the Internet. Most pieces start with some sort of box — an empty clock, a small jewelry holder. Then she adds an icon or two, such as Marilyn Monroe, two twin doll figures or Jesus.
There's also usually some sort of satirical twist to each piece, she said.
A piece called the "Heart Break Hotel" features a heart wrapped in thick restraints inside a gold box with a bell on top. The caption reads: "We've all spent time at the Heart Break Hotel. Ring the bell for room service!"
Another piece features a picture of Jesus behind the bars of a jail cell with the caption: "Father, I'll never touch another drop if you just get me out of here."
Taylor said she doesn't like to talk much about the meaning behind each piece because she communicates best through her art. She added that many of her pieces challenge or comment on traditional concepts of religion, romance, politics and other topics.
"I basically hope that people see this and find it very humorous," she said. "Or they can see it and it changes their perception. Just changes the lens a little bit so people can see something different that they hadn't thought of."
Though she's worked on the CU grounds and nursery crew for 18 years, she's been creating artwork only for the last four. In some ways, there's an overlap between her day job and her hobby, she said.
"There's a science to (grounds work), but it's also an art form," she said. "Working with colors and shapes and textures in the landscape, it's similar."
Taylor added that members of the grounds crew are very detail-oriented, which helps the Boulder campus stay near the top of the "most beautiful campuses" lists every year. And because much of the humor in her art is subtle, she pays close attention to the small touches that will make each piece unique.
CU's libraries have been showcasing different types of art, both permanent and temporary, to give students a more well-rounded experience when they study, said program and communications librarian Deborah Fink.
"It's important to nourish the whole person, especially the spirit and the heart, as well as the mind," Fink said.
Fink first saw the artwork in Taylor's backyard — the two are neighbors — and knew it was the type that might inspire students during study breaks.
"As soon as I saw them, I thought they're whimsical, they're witty," Fink said.
Taylor's approach to the campus landscape is similar to her approach to art, Fink said — don't take life too seriously or you'll miss the funny and beautiful parts.
"You're going from point A to point B and you don't stop and smell the roses, you don't notice the flowers and you don't notice the art, but it can be so enriching when you pause," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or email@example.com.