Professor finds art in toilet paper food

Camille Serre, professor of art, has worked at Murray State for 27 years, creating art out of toilet paper. During her time at the University, she has published a book guiding readers on several projects. || Photos by Nate Brelsford/The News

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

Camille Serre, professor of art and head of art education at Murray State, has published an instructional book on creating toilet paper sculptures.

Her book “Recipes for Sculpture: Methods for Creating Toilet Paper Food Sculpture and More” teaches others how to use tissue, water and tempera paint to create sculptures.

The instructional book was published by Kendall Hunt Publishing Co. in Nashville, Tenn.

Serre began this form of art after she had seen an exhibit at the Kentucky Art Education Association seminar done by Lori Sargent.

“I was fascinated by the sculptures,” she said. “Through experimentation I learned how to do these toilet paper sculptures.”

She said since then, she has been teaching others how to create the artwork.

Serre’s original plan was to create a coffee-table book which would showcase the sculptures created by students she has taught, ranging from Pre-K to postsecondary education.

“I met with Kendall Publishing and they convinced me to make it an instructional booklet instead,” she said.

The book, sold in the University Bookstore, also contains photographs of food sculptures as well as other projects. Each photo includes step-by-step guides on how to create the pictured craft.

Serre uses only toilet paper, water and tempera paint to mold sculptures.

The book includes a variety of works from Murray State students.

“Students that are non-art majors can also use these techniques,” she said. “This book could be especially helpful to aspiring and current teachers.”

Serre said it was a college textbook but teachers from all levels have shown interest in the book because of its simplicity.

She has given more than 180 presentations on art education and has taught 27 of the 45 years at Murray State.

“Because of this publication, I was contacted by Murray-Calloway County Speech Pathologist Cheryl Crouch to do a sculpture workshop with stroke and brain injury patients,” she said.

Through art, Serre said, the brain can rewire itself and allow different parts of their body to become stronger.

“Many of our participants have weaknesses on one side of their body which these activities can help them overcome,” Serre said.

Crouch said that the Murray-Calloway County Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group meet once a month and do different activities.

“I will probably plan at least one art therapy program a year since it was so successful,” she said. “It was a great art therapy tool, very functional.”

At the Stroke and Brain Injury Patient Support Group workshop for the Murray-Calloway County Hospital, four students aided Serre in teaching the patients.

Serre has won the Kentucky Art Education Association’s award: Kentucky Higher Education Art Educator of the Year three times, in 1993, 1996 and 2007.

She won the Kentucky Art Educator of the Year for 2011, which includes all levels of education in Kentucky.

Serre is teaching her last full semester at Murray State this Spring “This book means a lot to me,” she said. “I’m hopeful that it means a lot to Murray State and the students whose works are shown as well.”

Serre said she would like to have future editions of the textbook showcasing more Murray State student work.

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