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The Bell Tower reveals TJC’s hidden talent

he crisp morning air. Hidden talent lingers beneath the surface of all who hear its cry. This very realization inspired the title of TJC’s only arts journal, The Bell Tower.

“It just surprised me that TJC had such a thriving arts community here, but had no publication to highlight student artwork and the programs that help home those talents,” said English and Humanities Professor Dr. Linda Gary.

Gary is the founder and senior editor of The Bell Tower.

“It’s really a jazz, seeing your work in print and being able to say ‘I’m published!’ or ‘I had my artwork published in this journal,'” Gary said.

The arts journal began with its first publication three years ago and since then, student involvement has increased. All forms of “art” are accepted, including short stories, poetry, photography, visual art, graphic art, sketches and drawings.

“It’s a really wonderful collaboration among three different departments. Art and English, and then Graphic Arts,” Gary said.

The Bell Tower is entirely student generated. Students submit their work and then design the cover and the layout. Faculty has little to do with the publication itself.

Submission forms are available in Gary’s office (J-164), or in the Dean of University Studies’ office as well. The form must be filled out and attached to the work submitted. A selection committee meets in the fall and determines what will be published in The Bell Tower.

“The selection committee is made up of an equal number of students and faculty. It is a blind selection. They don’t know whose work they’re looking at. Selections are made on the merit of the work itself,” said Gary.

“We accept submissions from mid-spring through the fall, and then it comes out the following spring.”

Since preparation began in 2006, this literary magazine has continued to raise the bar including expanding from black and white to color, adding eight more pages, and winning or placing in all categories of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) contest.

“When I came to TJC… it had no magazine or journal. So I went.. and proposed the idea. I approached Derrick White in the Art Department and Torrey Wylie in Graphic Arts to see if they wanted to partner with me in this endeavor. And they did,” Gary said.

Art professor Derrick White currently serves on the editorial board and selection committee of The Bell Tower arts journal.

“You don’t want to create in a vacuum. Whether you’re writing poems, short stories, taking photographs or making paintings, you don’t want to just do that and keep it to yourself,” said White. “So you have to put it out there. You have to let people view it and respond to it.”

Informing new students about activities on campus, including The Bell Tower, has been a challenge for the fledgling magazine.

But they are even working on a promotional YouTube video this year to publicize the art journal.

“The fundamental problem of being at a two year school is the turnaround,” White said. “By the time you get information out to the student body at large, they transfer, graduate, or move on.”

Although faced with this minor drawback, the submission numbers have continued to increase since 2007.

“It’s great. People love it. Everyone we’ve talked to that has experienced The Bell Tower arts journal has been very complimentary,” said White.

Student response to the publication has been just as positive.

“The Bell Tower is an excellent way for all students to share their thoughts with the community,” said sophomore Brad Stenberg, who is active in TJC’s theater program. “The great part is that you don’t have to be an English major to submit your writings. Everyone is different and their different thoughts and styles are expressed creatively.”

Copies of the student produced magazine are available in multiple location all over campus and are completely free. All works are accepted until the deadline on Oct. 30.

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