Metro-East News

Althoff students create 9-foot-tall sculptures — with a professional artist’s help

Althoff students work with pro to build peace arches

Althoff Catholic High School students work with professional sculpture artist Marina Lee as part of the Art on the Square High School Sculpture in the City Program. The peace arches will be displayed on the Belleville IL bike trail in Southern Ill
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Althoff Catholic High School students work with professional sculpture artist Marina Lee as part of the Art on the Square High School Sculpture in the City Program. The peace arches will be displayed on the Belleville IL bike trail in Southern Ill

In the cavernous boiler room at Althoff Catholic High School, art students spent Friday spreading gloppy plaster on two sculptures that will soon be on display on the bike trail that runs along the campus off West Main Street and Frank Scott Parkway.

Each sculpture is about 9 feet tall, and they will be placed side by side. They complement each other with their curves and loops.

“It’s an implied arch, and it symbolizes peace,” said junior Callison Ames, who said the theme for the project is a “peacescape.”

It was cute watching them put things together, deciding where the parts would go.

Sculpture artist Marina Lee

Callison and her classmates were selected to participate in Art on the Square’s High School Sculpture in the City program sponsored by the Belleville law firm of Mathis, Marifian & Richter Ltd. The finished sculptures will be unveiled May 19, the opening night of the 16th annual Art on the Square show in downtown Belleville.

The Althoff students are working with sculpture artist Marina Lee, who previously has worked with students in Belleville’s three other high schools — Belleville East, Belleville West and Governor French Academy — as part of the High School Sculpture in the City program. Lee, who is from Milwaukee, also has worked with elementary school students in the area.

Under Lee’s direction, the students produce colorful and whimsical artwork you can see all around town.

“I’ve always loved them,” said Althoff sophomore Annie Pusa.

Annie particularly admires the large bench designed by Governor French Academy students and Lee. The bench is on display in front of Governor French Academy at 219 W. Main St.

It’s an implied arch, and it symbolizes peace.

Althoff junior Callison Ames

The sculptures’ bases are made of plywood and foam. Next, students coat the framework with plaster. Lee will then take the pieces back to her studio in Milwaukee, where she will coat them in fiberglass.

In early May, Lee will return with the sculptures, and the Althoff students will paint them.

“They’ll work on color designs while I’m gone,” Lee said.

Annie said she was having fun working in a 3-D medium as opposed to her usual 2-D drawings.

“It’s more abstract, and it’s amazing,” Annie said.

For Kaya Peterson, a sophomore at Althoff, Lee’s artwork makes her think of designs by Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss.

“It kind of brings me back to my childhood,” Kaya said.

It kind of brings me back to my childhood.

Althoff sophomore Kaya Peterson

Fifteen Althoff students are working on the two sculptures, which have not yet been named.

Art students often create their own pieces of artwork, but in this program, they work as a group.

Belleville attorney Pat Mathis said one of the reasons his law firm sponsors the program is that it gets students to pick the sculpture design together and then make it together.

“It’s interesting to see them work on a project that is a collective effort,” Mathis said.

Mathis, whose law firm is making a $10,000 donation to Art on the Square, stopped by Althoff on Friday to see how the students were progressing.

Callison said the students met several times before Lee arrived Thursday to talk about the project.

“We would just kind of throw around ideas on what we think peace would look like in sculptural form,” Callison said.

On Thursday, the students convened with Lee to talk about their ideas.

“It was cute watching them put things together, deciding where the parts would go,” Lee said.

Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square, looks forward to seeing another piece of artwork join the dozens that are already on display throughout the city.

“Everybody coming down Frank Scott Parkway is going to see that,” she said.

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