Art Students Paint Murals for SNDdeN Learning Lab

Art students used their talents to create paintings that will be displayed in the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's Photovoltaic Learning Lab.

CJ STEMM students have been connected to the Photovoltaic Learning Lab since its inception in the winter of 2013. The lab was installed at the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's Cincinnati campus in the winter of 2015.

"Once the equipment was installed and operating in the lab, which is a single bay of a brick garage on the Sisters' property, we began to brainstorm about ways to expand the learning space into representing something more than just the technical photovoltaic system," CJ STEMM coordinator Meg Draeger explained. "I began thinking about a STEAM Art component to enhance the space, which is rather stark and bare, with a large blank white wall that divides the garage bay from the rest of the garage. I spoke with Kaye Carlile, CJ art teacher about possibly creating a large painting or mural to fill that space. I applied for an Innovative Teaching Grant of the Miami Valley Catholic Schools in September 2016, and received one, which would cover the materials' expense to create murals. 

"By late fall 2016, after I received word that I was awarded the grant, I shared that news with the Learning Lab project team, and Mount Notre Dame High School expressed an interest in playing a larger role in the art project," Draeger continued. "We took a step backwards, conducted meetings and worked to generate a larger scope for the project. The murals that Kaye's students would create became six to eight paintings that could serve as part of a portable traveling display about the PV Project and Learning Lab, or be displayed in the Lab.  We were connected to the MNDHS art teacher, Michele Brauer, and this summer will finalize a plan for the entire space - aesthetically and academically, to create artwork in various media for the space, and learning activities to be done by visiting students of all ages, K-12, in the lab as part of a traveling exhibit and presentation about the project." 

"I think that it's great when my art students can become involved in a project that has such a huge global impact as the clean water project," Carlile shared. "It's a challenging endeavor to step into the mode of creating specific imagery for a specific purpose. In this case, it was creating images that reflected the culture of one of the areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a region where one of the photovoltaic projects has been installed."

Chloe Brzozowski '19 and Natalie Davis '18 were two of the art students asked to help with this project.

"I painted an African woman cleaning clothes by a river," said Davis. "I was given the option of this picture and I chose it because of the colors and I thought that it would be a good challenge."

"I painted a photo of a church," Brzozowski said. "I added a tree in the background to add more interest and depth to the painting."

The students said the opportunity to have their paintings displayed in the Learning Lab showcases the great partnership between CJ and the SNDdeN.

"I think it is a very unconventional way to get different types of people together, bonding through our faith, and hope for the lives of those in need," Brzozowski reflected.

Davis added, "I loved this project because it allowed me to focus more on the bigger things rather than all of the small details. I feel important because the SNDdeN are such a great society and I am honored to have my artwork on display."

"It very much excites me when different projects that start out independently merge and relate to each other," Draeger shared. "Those connections occur all over in the world, in our daily lives; one person, or event, or place, relates to many others, and it's part of our life's adventure to discover those connections, to encourage students to seek those connections and learn about them."

The paintings will be taken to the SNDdeN campus this summer before being used as a traveling display.

Posted June 7, 2017