Not just any painting would do. The art that would serve as the centerpiece over the fireplace in the Episcopal School of Dallas Study Commons needed to be one-of-a-kind. It would also need to encompass not only the School’s Episcopal identity, but also represent ESD’s diverse and pluralistic community. Charlotte Blaine, the ESD employee tasked with decorating the space, thought it essential members of the student body create the piece.
“Ms. Blaine asked us to create something that embodies the entire school… something that everyone could connect with,” Kathleen Raymond, one of ESD’s Fine Arts teachers, and facilitator of the project, said. “Our process was ‘artwork by committee.’ The imagery came from the freshmen and senior art students, and then everyone from the community was invited to add a prayer.”
Middle and Upper School students met over the course of several weeks to decide what kind of artwork would adorn the Study Commons, and choose which images would be used to capture the essence of the School. The group, led by senior Jenkins Bender and freshman Grant Hemingway, settled on a mixed media piece that would involve using metal spoons and solvent to transfer-print images of All Saints Chapel and an eagle onto a custom canvas.
“It was really important to us that the entire ESD community be invited to participate in the making of the print,” Bender said.
With the creative process underway, a group of students turned their focus to collecting handwritten prayers from their peers and teachers to transfer onto the canvas. Requests of different faiths and languages flooded in, as students worked together to arrange the phrases and uplifting words around the campus imagery.
“It really did take a village to get this project completed,” Raymond said. “Everyone was able to add their own special touch to the artwork.”
Bender agreed, saying “it was all of the hands that touched this piece that make it so special. Watching the different classes and divisions interact and write their personal prayers on the canvas added a sentimental value.”
When the images were pressed and dried, and the prayers meticulously placed to frame All Saints Chapel and the eagle, the words “faith,” “hope,” and “love” were printed larger and bolder than anything else. The size of each component directly represents the hearth and warmth of the School.
Hemingway, who pitched the idea of including an eagle in the piece, said he drew his inspiration from a statue he saw in Greg Randall’s classroom.
“To have the eagle be seen flying over All Saints Chapel shows that we as a community are one with God,” Hemingway said. “When people see the piece, I hope they will reflect on ESD as being a place where everyone is accepted.”
To see more photos of the creative process, please click here.