Art club members paint biblical mural

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
Having only two toddlers in the nursery worried members of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Women’s Group.
President Toni Shulenberger said the group was discussing ways to attract young couples to the South Main Street church one day when Judy Malanowski brought up the movie, “Field of Dreams.” In the movie, Kevin Costner plays Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, who hears a voice telling him, “If you build it, he will come.”
He ends up building a baseball field on his farm, after which Shoeless Joe Jackson returns from the dead to play again along with his fellow Chicago White Sox players banned from the sport after throwing the 1919 World Series.
Malanowski suggested that the women’s group follow the same concept. “If we make the nursery into something unusual and nice,” Shulenberger recalled her saying, “then maybe we can draw in more families.”
Acting as a one-woman committee, Shulenberger said, Malanowski called Salisbury High School to see if any art students would be interested in painting a mural on the yellow-beige cinder block walls in the small nursery.
After talking with her, art teacher Sean Hunter asked the students in the school’s Art Club if they’d be interested in taking on the project to help fulfill the 15 hours of community service work required for graduation.
Devereaux Swaim, club president, said members agreed to do a mural and have worked on it a couple of hours two afternoons a week and on two Saturdays since before Christmas.
Swaim, a junior at Salisbury High, said one reason it has taken so long is that three coats of paint are required to cover the yellow wall. She painted the lions already on board the ark, the two giraffes on the other side of the room, the two platypuses on yet another wall and some grass.
“The giraffes took a lot of work,” she said. Their faces had to be painted three times, and one’s back and leg had to be smoothed out.
Anne Knauf, a sophomore member of the club, said the giraffe looked like it had a tumor protruding from it.
“But we fixed that,” Swaim said.
Knauf said she painted “a lot of sky and clouds,” some grass and one of the two white dogs in the corner of the wall with the ark.
Junior Seth Morris painted the first dog from a photo of Wags, the pet of the Rev. Nelson Hodgkins, who resides part of the time in the vicarage behind the church.
“Today, we decided that Wags needed a friend,” Knauf said. “Besides, it’s two by two in the ark.”
Hunter suggested that they name the second dog Wiggles, she said, so they would have Wags and Wiggles.
Umber Siddiqui, Jessica Walters, Christine Vargas, Michelle Nguyen, Jesse Moyorga, Arjee Restar, Rachel Kirby, Zach Whitaker and Anthony Girelli also worked on the mural.
The members of St. Paul’s Episcopal are very pleased with the students’ work, Shulenberger said, and the Women’s Group is hopeful the newly-painted nursery will draw families to the church.
“How many churches get a mural drawn by such talented students who are willing to donate their time?” she asked. “Most students that age, they’d rather be doing other things than coming here and painting.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or