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Lee Library art exhibit features whimsical work by library employee

Every semester the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University displays works of art on its walls by fine arts students completing their degree requirements. This month, one of its own employees is featured.

"Frogs, Dogs & Gators" is the title of Shawn Boyles's art exhibit now displayed in the library's Hallway Gallery through May 19. Boyles, a recent graduate in illustration from Chico, Calif., has also been a student employee in the Lee Library for more than three years.

When not painting or studying, Boyles worked as a clerk in the receiving department, sorting through mail and delivering packages throughout the building. However, he says he's done a little of everything as a library employee, including repair work, cleaning and whatever else was needed.

"I feel like I've put up or taken down half of the shelving in the library," says Boyles, who was one of a handful of student library employees recognized with a library service award in April.

The exhibit comprises pages taken from a children's storybook he created, derived from a song Boyles's father wrote for him and his brother that has become a family tradition. He says he tried to make the art as fun as the song.

"It's also a kind of homage to my family and all our weirdness," he adds.

Boyles's says he doesn't know if he has a style, but whatever you call it, it succeeds in bringing a story to life. Using acrylic on illustration board, he claims his works is more in the realm of the unrealistic, but he has a good time making his characters "look fun." The colors he uses are so bright his fellow artists claim he's using paints straight out of the tube.

About the same time he was listening to his father make up quirky songs, he became interested in art. He began by drawing characters from the newspaper's comics section and never stopped.

"Hopefully my future contains almost nothing but art," says Boyles. He will break away from his library duties so that he and his family can go to New York where he'll be interning with two professional illustrators including Brett Helquist, a BYU grad who created the visual art for the popular "A Series of Unfortunate Events" stories.

With that experience and his talent he hopes to make a life of illustrating children's books and creating concept art for films.

Then maybe he'll epitomize the story of the mail room clerk who eventually makes it big.

Writer: Michael Hooper

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