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MOLDING MINDS: Art Project To Last Lifetime

Students at one metro school are working on a week-long art project that will last long after the year is over. And, the students aren’t just creating something that will hang on the wall. They’re learning life lessons while they work.

It looks like a puzzle. Student Allison Hunnicutt says, “I’m putting the tiles where they go.”

But, these students at St. Pius X Catholic School in Urbandale are working on an important project. Principal Larry Zahm says, “We wanted to create a piece of artwork all the students would have a part creating.”

They’re working on a legacy mural. Every student, teacher and staff member created a tile out of clay. Artist and Educator Connie Greany says, “Clay is one of the easiest teaching tools because the elements that are in clay are the same elements in our body.”

Students are learning about math, science and problem solving as they place each piece on the plywood. Greany says, “Of course it’s a cross representing Jesus Christ.”
Greany is the artist in residence at the school for the week. She leads legacy mural workshops around the Midwest. This is her 28th project. It’s the first she’s done in the metro. She says, “What I try to do is teach values with clay.”

The retired art teacher says clay isn’t just good for kids’ creativity. It can really help mold their minds. She says, “When you make the mark in the clay, that mark lasts forever, just like the choices you make. And, so it’s really difficult to go back and change anything once it sets in motion. So, having good habits and making good choices all the time to be the best person you can be is really important.”

The mural will eventually be installed on a wall in a stairwell where students can walk by it every day, find the piece they made, even touch it and remember the lessons they learned.”

Art teacher Ann Marie Jaschen says, “If they just remember the unity and how it took a whole team to create it, and how it took a whole team to create it. And, it wasn’t just one person, but it was everyone working together.”

The school will unveil the finished product Friday at 2 p.m. Greany says the legacy murals can cost between $600 to $8,000 depending on the size.


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