Mural at St. Joseph Regional School. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
A "before" shot of the site. Credits: Courtesy of Jessie Martin
Working on the scaffolding. Credits: Courtesy of Jennie Traill Schaeffer
A portion of the mural at St. Joseph Regional School. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Work in progress at St. Joseph Regional School. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Jennie Traill Schaeffer painting at night. Credits: Courtesy of Jennie Traill Schaeffer
A view of the mural's evolution. Credits: Courtesy of Jennie Traill Schaeffer
New Mural Beautifies Exterior of St. Joseph Regional School
Saturday, May 5, 2012 • 5:34pm
NEWTON, NJ – In an effort to revive the playscape area, there are some positive changes going on at the St. Joseph Regional School.
“It’s a playground for students during the day, and a parking lot for the church on the weekends,” said Jessie Martin, the chair of the Development Committee for the school.
St. Joseph Regional School received what Martin described as a “significant and undisclosed donation” from Thorlabs for the work to be done.
“We were going to do this sort of urban graffiti art to beautify and change the area,” said Martin. They have also made changes to the parking area with a plexipave surface.
They sought out the proposals from area artists, and ended up accepting one proposed from Jennie Traill Schaeffer, the owner and artist of TraillWorks, just around the corner from the school in Newton.
“She had a real detailed proposal and how to tackle the project of this size,” said Martin.
Traill Schaeffer said she was approached last spring about the project, which is a 40-foot by 15 foot area.
“I started the design last summer,” said Traill Schaeffer, who said it was based on scriptural passages she was given. “It wasn’t initially what they had hoped for, we went back to the drawing board.”
“I’m very honored, I’m certainly very flattered to have been chosen,” said Traill Schaeffer. “I found an opportunity to stretch myself and do something more public.”
For Traill Schaeffer, the process has been somewhat complex in designing the mural.
She already has experience with mural design, having a familiarity with a mural design project in Philadelphia, as well as set design for a dance company in New York City.
Schaeffer stands on a 15-foot scaffold, and must work at night, with lights shining on the mural surface in order to create the details with paint markers. Parent volunteers and students have helped Traill Schaffer in the process.
With working on the scaffolding, she said, “I have to be really aware of myself.”
There is only one walk board up there, and she must be alert to her surroundings.
“Once you’re up there it’s fine,” said Traill Schaeffer. “The tricky thing is getting the supplies up there.”
The weather must also remain cooperative for the work to take place.
Over the course of three weeks, Traill Schaffer was able to work six nights.
“Last week was too cold and windy,” she said. “It must be 50 degrees and above for the paint to adhere.”
As she works, those assisting her help guide the process, and she makes necessary adjustments to her drawings.
“She has an experience as an art educator, and we’ve gotten students involved in the process,” said Martin. “It’s been very exciting to see this come together. We had to be very creative to get the projector set up on the ladder.”
Traill Schaffer said she hopes to start painting next week, and, weather permitting, to have the project completed within the month.
St. Joseph Regional School is hosting its Open House and Family Fun Night, beginning at 6pm on Wednesday, May 23. Doors will open for the event at 6pm, and babysitting will be provided. Tours and the open house start at 8pm.