DHS teacher discovers he has talent, paints mural in his classroom
Bob Williston discovered art in mid-life.
The Douglas High School history and government teacher said members of his family are all artistic, but he never thought he would have any talent.
“I was 49 when I picked up a brush for the first time,” he said, “and since then I’ve been doing oils and I’ve done a few portraits.”
Three years ago, he walked into an art store in Carson City and saw lessons beging taught. He was intrigued, so he decided to join the class.
“I’ve been at it ever since,” he said. “It’s the greatest thing I ever did.”
He chef d’oeuvre – or oeuvre in progress, so to speak – is the mural in his classroom at Douglas High.
Williston hopes to finish it before Christmas. The mural is a large map of the country, showing icons symbolizing our cultural, social and historical heritage. For instance, in the East there are the White House, Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Capitol and the Liberty Bell; out west, miners, pioneers and Native Americans.
Cultural icons include Huckleberry Finn and soon, Elvis.
“Elvis is kind of an icon, too,” Williston said.
His students appreciate the work, Williston said. Last year, an unknown student added a cigarette to his miner.
“I never found out who did it,” he said, “but comments from the rest of the students showed they didn’t appreciate it any more than I did. They feel it needs to be respected, which pleases me a lot.”
Williston got the idea to paint a mural because the classroom he said he “inherited” had been painted with eight different colors; however, one teacher had painted mountains on a wall.
“I painted the mountains (to make it) look like Carson Valley, but then I got the idea there should be a mural. Some other teachers had talked about doing such a thing, too.”
The goal, he said, was to make the classroom look less institutional.