Small Town News

Art and Culture

Bourque shares her art & inspiration

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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Outside South Verde High School off of Main Street in Camp Verde, students take shifts painting colorful images into fake windows they've created on an outside wall.

The students are doing their own work, but Joan Bourque watches on.

Bourque is an art teacher at the school and has been helping students express themselves artistically at other schools from time to time as well.

"I asked what they wanted to tell their community about themselves," Bourque said. "They wanted to say we're not who you think we are, we want to tell them who we are."

An alternative to the regular high school, South Verde High School has often been the subject of misconceptions.

There was already a window on the wall, so the art students decided to paint some more "windows" to give a glimpse into what was going on inside the school.

The new windows are a form of trompe l'oeil, French for "deceive the eye."

Surfaces are painted in such a way to give the impression that what's depicted exists in three dimensions.

"It's insight into the typical day inside the classroom," Bourque said.

Bourque said the students come out every hour in shifts to help finish the work.

Eventually, plans are to have windows stretch across the rest of the wall. Part of the work was funded by the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Bourque said she's ready to move beyond illusions on a wall at some point.

"I want to do 3-D," Bourque said.

Bourque has been working at the school for around three years and has called Arizona home for around two decades.

She teaches mostly afternoon classes but Bourque said the program always seems to be growing.

Originally from back east, Bourque said she came to Arizona to be near family that lived out here in the desert.

She made some stops along the way, including living four years in New York City.

"It's something everyone should do once," Bourque said.

Bourque also spent more than a decade on the Dutch island of Saba in the Caribbean, where she worked as a scuba instructor.

In fact, last year Bourque organized a trip for some South Verde students to travel to that same island.

"They painted a mural there," Bourque said.

Bourque also is a painter of murals, including several around the Verde Valley.

"I'm always out taking pictures of blank walls," she said.

Saba is a small island, Bourque said, five square miles with 1,000 people.

"Everyone knows everyone," Bourque said. "We used to joke that you couldn't steal a television because someone would see it and say, 'hey, that's George's television.'"

Bourque enjoyed her time in New York, but its that small town feel that she likes these days.

It part of the reason she calls Cornville home.

"I like the sense of community," Bourque said.

Mark Lineberger can be reached at 567-3341 or email

How 'At Random' Works

Through experience, reporters learn every person has a story. To prove it, each week The Camp Verde Journal reporter hits the streets in the Verde Valley to intercept unsuspecting members of the public as they go about their daily business. With brief introductions and the chance to flee, the interview begins with the fated question, "If your story was in the newspaper, what would it be?"

Copyright 2014 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 8, 2014

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