Law firm praises Governor French students for art sculptures

Governor FrenchAt left, a scene from the plaque dedication

BELLEVILLE — Shareholders from the law firm Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd., recently dedicated a plaque to the students from Governor French Academy in Belleville for their contribution in creating two art sculptures for the 2014 Art on the Square’s High School Sculpture in the City program.

The interactive arts project challenged local students to create one-of-a-kind sculptures for their school campuses. Art teacher Evan Wilson and nine of his students worked with artist Marina Lee to design the pieces. The program is sponsored by Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. a longtime, recognized supporter of the arts in Belleville and surrounding communities.

The sculptures, titled “Family, Community, Life” and “The Tree of Heart,” are a large functional bench and a wall sculpture that were created with a plywood base covered with spray foam and modeling compound to create the forms. Under the guidance of Lee, students learned the fundamentals of public art design and how to create a full-scale art sculpture. Students conceptualized the designs and were involved in every stage of building the sculptures from designing, applying the spray foam and modeling compound, to painting the vibrant color patterns.

“The students were great throughout the entire process,” Lee said. “It was a really hands-on project and the students really applied themselves creatively.”

The designs were inspired by the students’ desire to communicate unity, family and community. The bench incorporates a large tree with its roots spelling out the word “family,” while the wall sculpture includes a smaller tree, two moons and flames.

Art teacher Wilson commented, “This was a great opportunity for the kids to get their hands dirty and to gain a thorough understanding of what’s involved with making large-scale public art. Marina was tremendous to work with and the students certainly valued the opportunity to learn from her. We’ve all really enjoyed the experience!”

As the official sponsor of the program, Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd., said it is proud to help create such a unique experience for local students.

“We are so pleased to help provide the opportunity to broaden art education in our community,” Pat Mathis, shareholder of MM&R, said. “Now in its fourth year, the program continues to provide a very valuable, hands-on learning experience for local students.”

The sculptures were permanently installed at Governor French Academy following Art on the Square. High School Sculpture in the City will continue to engage area high schools in years to come so that more students benefit from the experience. The program has already involved several-hundred student participants from Althoff, Belleville West, Belleville East and Governor French Academy. The program has resulted in five unique sculptures for the participating schools and the City of Belleville.

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