Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tile Wall Mural: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Bob Yost and our new tile wall mural

Dedicated on Saturday, August 17, 2013 in memory of former LCCS principal and lifelong learner, Kymberlea Calco, who went home to be with the Lord on February 1, 2012.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tile Wall Mural: A Glimpse

"Lake Center Christian School assists Christian families and their churches in equipping students for lifelong learning and service to Christ.  Lake Center Christian School offers an accredited Preschool - 12 education, which is centered in Christ."

An advance peek at one of the tiles

Our mission statement pops up on all sorts of official correspondence, advertising and even our web page.  I should know it by heart, having taught here for 16 years, but sadly I don't.  Never having been all that great at memorization, I'm much more likely to remember something if I can actually see it.  When the chance came to pitch an idea for an installation art work on the foyer wall, it seemed like a great opportunity to interpret our mission statement using the language of visual art.

The big ideas upon which the composition rests, "lifelong learning", and  "service to Christ", drive the mural's design.  After discussion with a number of  people, visiting ceramic artist, Bob Yost, drafted an initial concept for a finished work centered around an empty space shaped in the form of a cross.  All 23 tile panels work together to describe our school community, faith, and what lifelong learning and servanthood look like.

I love the fact that the mural's visual impact engages the viewer in new things to see over a period of time due to the rich layering of meaning and design.  Since I don't want to deny you the joy of your own discoveries, my explanations will stay in draft form on my drawing table.  In any event, even if I don't know the mission statement verbatim, the meat of it is in my head because I can now see it on the wall.

Come to the mural dedication on Saturday, August 17th at 12:15 in the main school foyer during our "Family Fun Day" celebration to see it for yourself!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tile Wall Mural: The Work of Many Hands

What does one do with a big bare wall that greets visitors at our entrance?  During the winter and spring of last school year, visiting ceramic artist, Bob Yost, worked with hundreds of LCCS students to address that question.  Conceiving a ceramic work that would embody the school’s mission statement, Mr. Yost could be seen frequently ferrying crates of clay slabs to and from the art room eventually emerging with the pieces parts that would comprise the finished work.

Mr. Yost demonstrates to young students how to create texture in their clay

Working the stamps with Mr. Yost

It was always a welcome change of pace when we set aside our regular art project in order to pick up some clay and work on the tile wall mural. Little ones created “energy” by tapping their fingers into a soft clay surface resulting in beautiful pattern variations for background tiles.  Older students as well as adults used letter stamps pressed into slabs to spell out bible verses.  These worked as  stand -alone tiles as well as a textural element.  High school art students took on the task of forming three-dimensional shapes in addition to executing representational imagery.  

Stamping in text
Last winter a friend shared a song with me called  “Why it Matters” by Sara Groves.  Whenever I listen to it, I'm reminded that beauty matters because it’s a reflection of God’s creative character.  Many hands in our school community, orchestrated by a talented visiting artist, joined together to make something of lasting visual impact because beauty matters.

Next week: A glimpse at the finished work

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Hard Goodbye: Village 106 in the Dominican Republic

(Thanks, Hope)
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Village 106 sits snuggled under verdant mountains covered in sugar cane and mango trees about an hour and a half away from the MGM Compound in Hato Mayor, our base of operations.  
On the first day, when the bus turned onto the dirt road in sight of the village proper, children spilled out into the open and quickly claimed their American friend for the week.   The guys of our group didn’t have the same length of opportunity as our girls for relationship building with little kids, as their main contribution was laying brick and pouring cement to build a burn area for garbage which is endemic to the surrounding area.
The plan for our students was to present a VBS program, perform a wordless skit illustrating the life of Christ, and then use their budding relationships to build their village kid’s English vocabulary.  I laughed out loud when Abigail’s kid said to me on cue and in perfect valley girl intonation, “Hey, girlfriend.” For the most part however, the students relied on gesture, pantomime, an interpreter if one was handy, or limited Spanish skills to communicate with their village kid.  What did that look like? For the girls that meant hair braiding, painting nails, playing games and singing songs. For the guys it seemed that their little friends were their shadow, wanting to help in any way they could in the construction process.  
It doesn’t take much to show someone that you genuinely care, because kindness and love transcend words.  That’s what made leave taking so wrenching, because our students had given their whole hearts to building relationships with their village kids.  Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  I saw the cost of “being all there” written on our students’ faces, some with tears sliding down their cheeks the last day.  They shared the love of Jesus without reservation and planted seeds of hope in the children they left behind.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Art of Painting Jeremiah 29:11 : Village 106 in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Mission Trip 2013

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." NIV

LCCS students trace the template to the wall

Luis (in blue) and Alejandro


Jeremiah 29:11 in Village 106 with the face of Christ

          A Haitian villager in his 40’s, Luis Francis, showed up on our first day in the village wanting to help my students work on the wall.  He ended up working with us for the duration.  Since I couldn’t speak Spanish, fortunately he also spoke French.  I dusted off my high school French, and at the start of each day, we would exchange a French greeting ritual which included inquiring as to the health of our respective families. I remembered enough to handle the pleasantries easily and laid in my best French accent.  For the rest, however, I was able to decipher just the main gist of his conversations.  It was only on the last day, after I had turned my brain inside-out looking for the words to describe a particular set of instructions, that he helped me out in English.  The look of surprise on my face elicited a smile, but he wouldn’t use English again.

What I really appreciated about Luis was his faithfulness in executing the given daily job. Each day he’d take a pencil or brush and proceeded to apply himself to the task of drawing or painting with serious concentration for hours at a stretch.  When I felt like wilting, I just looked at him, and his example kept me going.  On several occasions he was my interpreter as I relayed instructions in French which he then passed on in Spanish to other Haitian villagers who wanted to join in.  On the final day of painting, all my students were otherwise engaged making the most of their last times with their village friends.  Resident artist and MGM employee, Barb Charles joined Luis and me to complete the work.  Not long into it, two other Haitian men in their 20s asked to participate - Alejandro and Wilhelm.  I had been content and happy to enlist the older village kids to work with my students in the making of the mural.  To have three Haitian men work together with other young village men looking on was more than I could have dared hoped for.  At that point, I stepped back and completely gave over the finishing of the painting to them as they took ownership.   When it was done, and everything was put away, Barb prayed powerfully for it to be used to God’s purposes.   

 Throughout the conception of what to put on the wall - to the logistics of transportation and execution, I had been sweating over all the details. In my typical fashion I had plans A, B, and C if things went south.  I’m not normally an anxious person, but I was plagued by worry about the painting aspects of this trip.   I worried about getting a large template and stencil onto the airplane, I worried about finding the right colors of paints locally, I worried about what I was forgetting to bring, and I worried whether the people of Village 106 would accept the painting as something that added a measure of beauty to their environment and served as an encouragement to them.  God came through and answered immeasurably more than I could have asked for or imagined.  He is faithful, and I’m grateful – to him be the glory. Amen.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mural: The Art of the Race

 1 Corinthians 9: 24 - 25: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize...They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

This past weekend, to the strains of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, I covered up wayward paint drips and completed lettering a verse above our annual mural project.  It’s been a 3 ½ month journey, working our way through figure drawing and painting to arrive at a finished product. We grappled with hands, feet, foreshortened legs and pesky hairlines that kept looking like helmets.  Let’s just say one gets a whole new appreciation for Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling painted while he was on his back. 
You might notice the eyes of all the athletes are downcast.  You may choose from the following list for the correct interpretation:
1.       Eyes are difficult to paint;
2.       They are praying; or
3.       The locker room, on occasion gets used by the boys’ opposing teams, and the girls are modestly averting their eyes….
4.       And the answer is…
All of the above at some point or another.
For fun, embedded in the numbers on the athletes’ bibs is a secret message. 
Thanks to all my senior high art club students who worked so hard to transform this space!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making My Day - Scholastic Arts Contest

Jennifer4008, Silver Key

This past Saturday, several of my advanced art students sat in a sea of  honorees at the annual Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards ceremony held at Kent State Stark Campus to receive recognition for their art. Jennifer Barber and Alex Embleton garnered silver keys for their pieces, and Kaitlin Warner and Hannah Dean earned honorable mentions for theirs.  All gold and silver key works are currently on display at Kent State Stark until this Thursday, January 30th.  Only about 20% of submitted work is awarded recognition from Scholastics, so I'm very happy that my students did so well.

Alex11869, Silver Key

Kaitlin1173, Honorable Mention

Hannah10535, Honorable Mention