Art project brings school together

Peace Lutheran students work on a paint project on the front lawn of the school. - Seraine Page/staff photo
Peace Lutheran students work on a paint project on the front lawn of the school.
— image credit: Seraine Page/staff photo

Under the warm sun, Peace Lutheran School students soaked up sunshine and the opportunity to work together on an art project during an annual All School Art Day event last week.

Each year, the entire student body — pre-K through eighth grade — gathers to work on an art project. This year’s theme focused on culture and the backgrounds of three artists from different countries: Japan, Mexico and the United States.

“It’s a big part of our curriculum,” said Principal Doug Eisele of the arts. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Leading up to the actual art project, the different grade levels studied the artists, and the culminating project took place on the front lawns of the school where students painted wood cutouts in the shape of people.

The idea for the project also was to “retire” the wooden fish that currently decorate the chain link fence in front of the school, Eisele said.

Last week, while lying on stretches of grassy lawn, the students melded together like the paint on the wooden cutouts they painted. The older ones guided the younger kids with patience, even as they piled paint outside of the sketched lines.

That, after all, was the idea, Peace Lutheran School Art Teacher Patricia Huelle said.

“It’s just to get the whole student body together on a community project,” said  Huelle.

Each group had one wooden cutout of various skin tones to represent the melting pot that makes up the school, said Huelle.

“That in and of itself represents who we are as a student body,” she said.

Sitting in circles around a life-size wood cutout person, older student leaders took votes on design ideas, including eye color and clothing.

Third-grader Ella Smith said “spending time together” was the best part of the all-day art project.

“I think it’s coming along good,” Smith said of her group’s painting of a blonde girl in a dress.

Some groups painted specific details, like Nike swooshes, as part of the footwear. A few of the younger students were more interested in enjoying the sunshine, as a few sat on the grass picking small flowers instead of participating in painting.

Within 30 minutes, the entire school—all 225 students — were finished with the cutouts, including flowers that would decorate the fence as well.

Huelle started the event eight years ago with the idea of creating a community project to be given to the school campus or church next door.

When she mentioned switching to projects the students could instead take home instead of donating somewhere, they “rebelled” she joked.

For some, giving their artwork back to be displayed to the public is their favorite part of the project, she said.

As she neared the end of her paint job, third-grader Sophia Bautgh thought about the importance of painting a variety of races to be represented on the fence in front of her school.

“You’re all the same,” she said. “Even in your painting.”

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