Work of St. Philomena student-artists at Peoria Art Guild this week

By: By Tom Dermody

“Every child is an artist.”

That quote from Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso not only is written on the wall of the art room at St. Philomena’s School in Peoria, it is evidenced in nearly every hallway and classroom.

And all this week, on walls where the works of master artists such as Picasso or Monet are normally found, the considerable talents of St. Philomena’s student-artists will be on display for persons from throughout the area to appreciate.

From May 13 to 19, the Peoria Art Guild is hosting St. Philomena’s Inaugural Art Show, titled “Colors of the Son,” in its Foster Arts Center at 203 Harrison St.

If elementary school art brings images of crayon drawings to mind, think again.

Under the guidance and inspiration of full-time art instructor Marcie Curley, St. Philomena students have created a wealth of acrylic paintings, chalk and oil pastels, sculptures, mosaics, weavings, and even icons. In the fall, many pieces were displayed and sold at the parish’s annual fall auction, which was called “An Evening in the Gallery.”

“For many kids, this is what they excel in,” said Curley, who had the difficult task of selecting about 100 of the best works for this week’s show at the Art Guild.

“A lot of it was what moved me to tears,” she said.

Yes, the art is that good, such as the acrylic painting “The Invisible Kiss of God” by fifth-grader Grace Fahey. It was inspired by Grace’s own reflection on the famous lithograph “Drawing Hands” by Dutch artist M.C. Escher.

Grace is looking forward to this week’s art show not just to see her work on display, but “to see everyone’s artwork and learn how they got inspired.”

For many students, the inspiration comes from their Catholic faith.
Curley has taken classes on tours of area churches to explain the meaning of their art and architecture. After seeing the new glass rendition of St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun” in the lobby of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, eighth grade students created their own original series in chalk.

The framed series will be on display at the art show. In fact, one was incorporated into promotional materials.

But Curley also finds everyday examples to incorporate faith in her program, such as the colors of a sunset or the different hues and shapes found in trees. “If that isn’t God speaking to you?.,” she says, her voice trailing off to indicate she believes it is.

“We have students who have really expressed their faith through their artwork,” added Jodi Peine, principal. “As Catholic educators, we educate the whole child. You can’t be whole without the arts. It brings them closer to God.”

Fifth-grader Grace Breitbach understands.

“God made every little detail in the world,” she wrote in a recent assignment. “The world is art. It’s God art,” said Grace, including the people.

“Famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Van Gogh are all good artists,” she wrote, “but God is the best artist.”

“Colors of the Son” opens on Friday evening, May 13, with a private, invitation-only reception. That evening, musical entertainment will also be provided by student artists.

The show opens to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. There is no charge to view. The public is also welcome to stop by the Art Guild during regular hours throughout the week until the show closes on Thursday, May 19.

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