New mosaic construction begins at St. Joseph School Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Dennis Bries, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Feb. 03, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

FORT ATKINSON -- A one-of-a-kind work of art has been planned and the call for alumni volunteers from St. Joseph School in Fort Atkinson has gone out.

FORT ATKINSON -- A one-of-a-kind work of art has been planned and the call for alumni volunteers from St. Joseph School in Fort Atkinson has gone out.

“The selection of a mosaic theme involved extensive consultation with our school’s students, staff, and parents,” said Sally Koehler, local art teacher and chair of the St. Joseph School Art Enrichment Committee.

Joshua Winer, this year’s artist-in-residence, personally conducted brainstorming sessions with students in October 2010.

Imaginative ideas

Numerous imaginative ideas surfaced from these sessions with a few images rising again and again. Biblical themes centered on a strong image of Jesus as a biblical storyteller.

Koehler summarized the ideas gathered as follows: “We wanted the mosaic to contain images of children as well as nature. We wanted a striking, beautiful, and inviting piece — one that would make a strong first impression, but one to which we could return often in the hope of seeing or experiencing something new. And all of this needs to be accomplished in a large but unusual space: a long, narrow strip at the top of our entry wall.”

Student drawings served as blueprint

Students created concept drawings and detailed sketches for Winer. Using elements from these materials, he created one cohesive drawing that will serve as the “blueprint” for our mosaic. The image he created is at once beautiful, powerful, and welcoming.

At the center of the mosaic is the iconic figure of Christ, his arms outstretched, flanked by two of his disciples. On either side are scenes from the Bible, united by the repeated image of fish. The scenes include the miraculous feeding of the multitude, the story of Jonah, and Peter catching a fish with a coin in its mouth (Mt 17:24-27).

But the central image of the mosaic is taken from Luke’s account of Jesus calling his disciples…Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. Simon said in reply, Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.

“When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. Jesus said to Simon; do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men. When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him” (Luke 1:4-6, 10-11).

Alumni, volunteers, and students prepare materials

Work is underway as St. Joseph students prepare materials for the mosaic during their art classes. Parish alumni and other interested volunteers will continue work on the various mosaic materials, including the community function of mounting the mosaic pieces in their permanent place on the entry wall.

Among the individual items, students will mold clay into fish and other sea creatures that appear throughout the piece. They will also create some of the raw materials for the mosaic by glazing tiles and then fragmenting them once they have been fired.

Mosaic works sessions

Koehler said, “You are invited to help create the mosaic! No special skills are required beyond the desire to be part of this parish community event.”

Work sessions will be held Saturday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 27. Brief instructions when you arrive will allow you to contribute to this work of art. Call committee member, Rhona Buchta, at 920-723-5974, to schedule yourself for work session.

Committee members express their special thanks to the major donors who made this unique event possible: the Calvillo and Wermeling families, Greg and Lou Stark Schwemmer, and the Wisconsin Energy Foundation. Currently there is a giant yellow banner placeholder in the school entryway to announce the exciting year of Art Enrichment programming.

Winer will spend at least a week at St. Joe’s, helping students to create and install the permanent work of art. Every student will have hands-on time crafting the mosaic mural. Families and parish members will also have the opportunity to work on the mosaic during optional evening and weekend sessions. Students and parishioners can be proud of their work, and our community can enjoy a beautiful work of art for years to come.

Artist background

Joshua Winer is an artist specializing in the design and creation of murals, mosaics, and public art in a wide range of media. He is also an experienced teacher and works with schools and community groups to create art for architectural environments, public spaces, and gardens.

Winer’s background includes a degree in fresco painting from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1976), a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Yale University (1978), and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Harvard University (1986). After practicing architecture for three years, he became a licensed architect in 1989.

Winer has created more than 100 murals and works of public art, from very large exterior murals for city centers to personalized interior murals for homes, and everything between: murals in hotels, restaurants, hospitals, old-age homes, mansions, museums, castles, bathrooms, office buildings, parking garages, malls, theaters, and schools. He works in many media, including paint, mosaic, ceramic, brick, metal, and wood.

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