Enochville students embrace art of recycling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

By Emily Ford
ENOCHVILLE ó A new mural at one of the oldest schools in Rowan County depicts the mission of a state-of-the-art scientific research complex, using discarded and recycled items.
It all makes sense when you see it.
Unveiled Monday to enthusiastic applause and a chorus of “ohs!” and “ahs!” at Enochville Elementary, the colorful, three-dimensional mural makes a striking addition to the entryway of the 73-year-old school.
Including ears of corn decorated with old rulers and a pineapple made from pencils and vinyl siding, the mural pays tribute to the health and nutrition focus of the N.C. Research Campus, a $1.5 billion life sciences hub in nearby Kannapolis.
“Sow good seed,” the mural reads.
The simple phrase touches all aspects of the innovative art project: The super fruits and vegetables that scientists will grow at the Research Campus. The search for better nutrition and new treatments for disease.
And the school children who will walk by the mural each day, growing and flourishing as their teachers tend to them.
Who knows? Some may work at the campus one day.
Art teacher Teresa Strohl came up with the idea after seeing an article about Salisbury folk artists Lisa and Tim Kluttz last year. Their simple, colorful wooden creations were just what she had envisioned for the school’s entryway.
A $1,000 grant from the Rowan Arts Council supported the Kluttzes’ work with the school.
First, 60 fifth-graders learned about the Research Campus in March. Marketing director Phyllis Beaver made the presentation.
“This is a level of creativity that I never expected to see from fifth graders,” Beaver said at the unveiling. “This old school is a little gem out here in the country, but these teachers are bringing their students into the future of Kannapolis with this.”
Then, the Kluttzes showed the students some of their folk art for inspiration. The students began to sketch various components of the mural: strawberries, carrots, even Zebrafish and a mouse brain cell, both important research tools for scientists in Kannapolis.
The Kluttzes took the sketches and created wooden templates, which the students painted vivid colors.
The students collected reclaimed and recycled items to provide the details for the mural.
Paint can lids for the grapes. Nuts and bolts for the pear. Bottle caps for the eagle, a bird they chose to top their mural after seeing a photograph of the painted eagle that soars across the ceiling of the Core Laboratory Building at the Research Campus.
The eagle’s wings are covered with spoons and forks.
The owl, with a cork for a beak and two knobs for eyes, was principal Barry Haywood’s idea, since Enochville is the home of the Wise Owls.
Funded by a new grant program called Arts in Education, the process that created the mural is exactly what the Rowan Arts Council had in mind, director Marietta Smith said.
“We could not be more pleased,” she said. “The idea was to have professional artists working with school children.”
Rowan Investment Company, which has given the council another gift, funded the grant. Three other grants allowed Knox Middle School to work with the Salisbury Symphony, North Rowan High School to create a mural and all third-graders in the county to view the Nutcracker this winter.
Smith said she will take applications until June 30 for another round of Arts in Education grants.
Built in 1936, Enochville Elementary now has a picture of the future.
“I think this is something the school can be proud of for many years to come,” Haywood said.