By Ashley Wilkinson
The beloved Bell Tower chimes every half hour. It creates a symphony with the drum beat of students typing lecture notes on a Microsoft Word document, the vibration of cheers from the stands as the Apaches win another sports game and the bassline of students’ dread as their professor announces a pop-quiz. Just like the everyday song of TJC students attending their classes, the campus has its own song. This song is the harmony of all students from all different backgrounds and all different majors blending to artfully create TJC’s student body.
The 14th volume of the annual Bell Tower Arts Journal, a collective project from the English, Visual Communications and Fine Arts departments, is scheduled to be published later this semester. Students submitted their work online before Nov. 12, 2020, and a committee composed of three faculty members and three students from the involved departments selected the best pieces for publication.
“[The Bell Tower Arts Journal] is a huge inspiration,” Art Department Chair Derrick White said. “You get the validation of something that is important to you, that you have made in say a painting class, that gets accepted by a selection committee, and it gets published in a legitimate, full-color magazine. You are a published artist.”
The Bell Tower Arts Journal was founded in 2006 by Dr. Linda Gary, department chair of Humanities, Philosophy and General Studies. Gary was previously employed by a school that had a literary arts journal, and when she became an employee at TJC, she was interested in the TJC literary arts journal at the time.
According to Gary, the literary arts journal then was open for both student and faculty submissions. It eventually got to a point where only faculty members were getting their pieces published. Therefore, Gary lead for the movement of the creation of a literary arts journal solely for students. The dean at the time was able to fund Gary’s literary arts journal with approximately $3,000, and the journal was officially created.
From there, the new literary arts journal needed a name. A committee met and submitted their name ideas. Judith Bateman, a professor of Humanities, Philosophy and General Studies, submitted “The Bell Tower,” and it was selected.
“Just as the Bell Tower at Tyler Junior College chimes on the half hour to mark the passage of time, it reminds the students of the harmony which surrounds them in their educational pursuits,” Bateman wrote in 2006 and is now printed in a section labeled “About the Title” at the beginning of every volume of the Bell Tower Arts Journal. “Music, dance, theatre, art, athletics and academics blend to make Tyler Junior College a beacon to the community, the state and the world at large. The Bell Tower Arts Journal proudly hails the accomplishments of its hallowed halls and beckons those who would seek both its tradition and the promise of tomorrow.”
The first volume of the Bell Tower Arts Journal was published in black-and-white but soon moved to full color.
Students in the Visual Communications Department participate in a cover design contest, and the selection committee votes on the cover design. From there, a team of these students design the page layout for the arts journal.
“One of the neat things is that this is what the Visual Communications department is training students to do,” White said. “If history is any guide, [the 2021 Bell Tower Arts Journal] should be ready by April or sometime after Spring Break.”