BY VICKI TERWILLIGER
Images of stars, flowers, landmarks and graphic celebrations of life leapt off mural fabric Monday.
Art teachers from 11 county public school districts created the colorful pieces during an in-service day program for the “783 Points of Light Project.”
“I chose something I thought our kids would like to do,” said Heather Shertzer, a seventh- through 12th-grade art teacher from Williams Valley whose mural depicted the Viking school mascot and a patriot background.
“We have many veterans in our district and there are a lot of students who serve. I’m really excited about this,” Shertzer said.
Held at the Walk In Art Center in Schuylkill Haven, the program allowed area educators to meet and create samples of 12-by-12-inch murals that they can show to the students in their home districts.
There are 783 square miles in Schuylkill County. The project, which is partially grant-funded, will create 783 mini-murals, at one-square-foot each, depicting what makes student artists proud to be from their district or community. There will be at least 65 mini-murals per district with the 11 school districts participating, according to Lorraine Felker, WIAC studio artist.
It’s hoped the images can dispel inferior perceptions of the county and shed light on its positive attributes, resources, history and culture — one mini-mural at a time.
Teachers will adapt the 783 Points of Light Project into their curricula, and will create lesson plans, guidelines and rubrics. Each district can decide which grade levels will participate and how the murals will be displayed. The murals will be permanently installed throughout each community by “WIAC Art 4 U” personnel at locations to be determined by each district.
A WIAC artist-in-residence will be assigned to each district to assist with development, creation and installation. Over a three-month period, the artist will collaborate with staff and students during the creation process.
Lake, trail, bridge
Crews worked with artists-in-residence on larger, single murals as part of the WIAC Art 4U “Lacing Communities with Art” project this summer in Pottsville, Tamaqua and Minersville.
Sara Arnold and Lindsey Boncore, Pottsville Area High School art teachers, participated in the in-service activity Monday. They had worked with Danielle Buery on the large mural at the D.H.H. Lengel Middle School unveiled last month. Debbie Gilbert, a WIAC board member, served as project technical director.
“We wanted to have some examples to show our students, and took notice to some of the problems they may run into with the project. This is an opportunity for students to take pride in their community and have ownership,” Arnold said.
Boncore, who takes her Advanced Placement Studio Art classes to Locust Lake each year, painted her mural to reflect a lake landscape and her personal interest in the outdoors. The painting en plein air (outdoors) provides her students with usable skills, she said.
“This is in honor of that tradition,” Boncore said.
Meanwhile, Pine Grove art teachers Darla Rodriguez and Pam Ryan said they’re looking for businesses interested in displaying some of the mini murals.
“We wanted to pick things that people would notice about living in the Pine Grove area, from north in Tremont down to Rock. We’re going for a more realistic approach,” said Rodriguez, who works at the elementary. She painted a mural depicting the Appalachian Trail along the Route 501 lookout.
Ryan, who teaches at the middle school, painted an image of the Rock covered bridge.
Another participant, Lori Remmel, a Tamaqua Area High School graphic arts teacher, came up with a star design.
“Maybe we’ll put all of our stars together, then we’ll have a galaxy,” she said.
Remmel, Felker’s daughter, is also a WIAC studio artist who works in mixed media. She worked with Julie Richards, a WIAC artist-in-residence, and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center on the “Tamaqua Choose Happiness” mural in the borough.
“It’s also a special day to get to know other art teachers in the county,” Remmel said.
Each district is responsible for $2,335 to fund the $40,000 project. Expenses include $10,000 in materials and supplies; $18,000 for the artists-in-residence; $3,000 for administrative services; and $9,000 for installation and technical services.
Several funding sources have included $10,000 SCIU Art in Education fund, $1,000 from the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce, $1,000 from the Schuylkill Visitor’s Bureau and the remaining $28,000 from the participating districts.
“Donations are greatly appreciated,” Felker said.
The murals will be completed this school year, with installation across the county planned for June.
Contact the writer: 570-628-6007