Artwork a 'puzzling' picture of Eden Hall past
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Picture a 1,254-piece puzzle that is 19 feet long and 5 1/2 feet wide.
Now imagine the story of Eden Hall Upper Elementary School being told visually with that puzzle, and you have an idea of the montage produced by the art teachers, students and staff at the school in Pine-Richland School District.
Art teachers Eileen Gilson, Diana Hufnagle and Kerry Boyd brainstormed the idea as they collaborated on how to celebrate Youth Art Month in March.
"We wanted to include all the students," said Ms. Gilson, and they wanted the project to commemorate Eden Hall's first year. The school for fourth, fifth and sixth grades opened in August on a 30-acre site at 3900 Bakerstown Road.
Mr. Boyd designed the artwork that includes an image of philanthropist Sebastian Mueller, the owner of Eden Hall Farm, who was a senior vice president of H.J. Heinz Co. in the late 1800s. He established vacation retreats for working women at Eden Hall's 400-plus acres in the 1930s.
The montage includes images of a Heinz ketchup bottle, the farm, the school, and Chatham University, to which the remainder of the farm was donated.
"Basically, I was trying to give a brief history through a visual image," said Mr. Boyd.
After the design was completed, it was enlarged onto a much bigger canvas that had a grid superimposed on it with letters across the top and numbers down the side. Following that map, 1,254 pieces measuring 3 inches by 4 inches each were created and marked to note where the pieces were to be placed.
Once students were assigned pieces of the grid, they used math skills to find where their piece fit on the gridded image of the artwork and figure what colors to use on it, said Ms. Gilson.
"Each child only had a small tile to paint, but they put their best work into it," she said.
That was not as easy as it might sound, considering there were multiple shades of reds, greens and blues from which to choose, explained Ms. Hufnagle. As she laid out pieces of the montage, she said, she discovered that some of the artists had used vermilion red when they should have used red oxide, for instance.
Fifth-graders Kirin Chestnut and Shaelyn Parry were among the youngsters repainting pieces during Friday's art class to get the colors right and to fill in pieces that were not painted.
"It's fun," both said of the project.
The montage was divided into thirds, which enabled each art teacher to house a portion of the project in his or her classroom. The Workshop, a Gibsonia cabinet-making business, created three wood frames onto which the 1,254 pieces would be glued. Members of Eden Hall's staff also pitched in to paint some of the pieces.
An incredible amount of time has gone into planning and organizing the project, said Ms. Hufnagle. "[The students] are all wound up. They're thrilled!"
Ultimately, the montage will hang on a wall across from the art classrooms, near the school's front entrance. The finished work is scheduled to be unveiled during open house programs Tuesday, yesterday and today.
"I just hope it's worthy of the school," said Mr. Boyd.
First Published April 2, 2009 12:00 am