Credits: photo and mural by Jennie Traill Schaeffer
The long wall of the mural, depicting the 10 Commandments, Annunciation of Mary, St. Joseph, the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Ressurection and Ascension. Credits: Photo by Jessie Martin, Mural by Jennie Traill Schaeffer
The playscape area where the mural was painted was drab and lacked life. Credits: Photo by Jessie Martin
St. Joseph School to host family fun HarvestFest & Mural Dedication: Local Artist Brings Student Playground to Life with Painted Bible Illustrations
Thursday, September 27, 2012 • 11:21pm
NEWTON, NJ - To celebrate the completion of its epic mural, created by Newton artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer, St. Joseph Regional School will be holding a HarvestFest and Mural Dedication on Sunday, October 14th from 1-3pm. During the afternoon, families are invited to come and play in front of the vibrant artwork, summarizing the Creation to the Ascension of Christ. Fun is sure to be had with a bounce house, cider, doughnuts, carnival games, face painting, and music. The mural is located in the rear playscape area of the school, accessed by alleys via Jefferson and Halsted Streets.
This mural is the only large-scale outdoor artwork in Sussex County. The forty-foot outdoor walls surrounding the playscape are segmented into nine painted “stained glass” windows. The highest point on the mural is 15 feet tall, and features the resurrected Christ. Commissioned by the school in 2011, Schaeffer began the actual painting of the chosen design in March of this year. Meant to depict nine selected scriptures by the school, the mural illustrates in bold colors and a narrative style, several key Biblical moments starting with Creation and ending with the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. The idea evolved from brainstorming sessions with selected St. Joseph’s students, meetings with church and school officials and parent volunteers, and a lot of creative thought in the studio. Well over a hundred hours of work have gone into the actual painting, which Schaeffer completed independently while juggling her responsibilities at TraillWorks, her studio/gallery, and weather complications throughout the spring and summer.
When Schaeffer first saw the proposed canvas for the mural, the playscape area was drab and depressing. There was no sign of color or life. “I was initially intimidated by the scale of the project, but saw this as an amazing opportunity to expand my experiences and canvas, so to speak,” says Schaeffer. The artist spent a summer during college interning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she was exposed to the city’s successful Mural Arts Program. The idea of one day painting a large-scale outdoor mural was cemented in her brain. “I realized this was the mural. I was fortunate to have the assistance of many great parent and student volunteers who kept me company in the dark when I projected the sketches on the walls, and in assembling the 15’ scaffolding to reach the taller surfaces.”
“The children learned a great deal about a project of this size, watching it progress in the Spring. We are delighted with how it turned out. This space has been transformed with art. Jennie, as well as the subject matter, have taken it from dull to colorfully inspiring,” remarked Linda Nick, St. Joseph School’s principal
“I’m on the best side of the building,” said Emma, a first grader, “I get to see the mural from my desk!”
The mural will be officially dedicated at the HarvestFest. Admission is free and all ages are invited to this community-wide event. More information on the event can be found on the school’s Facebook page, and website: www.stjosephregionalschool.org. To learn more about the artist and TraillWorks, visit their Facebook page or their website: www.traillworks.com. Parking will be available on surrounding streets and in public parking lots on Spring Street, walking distance from the school.