Traditional Program News

Silver Lake College Art Classes Collaborate on Public Drawing

Posted by Elizabeth Fritsch on October 09 2013

If you’ve entered Silver Lake College through the art wing entrance during the past few weeks, you’ve probably stopped and marveled at the attention-grabbing charcoal drawing on the pavement, which features a small human figure gazing up at a bare, towering tree. Above the drawing, a quote by St. Francis of Assisi reads, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” The drawing was a collaboration of art professor Erin LaBonte’s Drawing and Composition I and II classes.

During her first year teaching at the college level, Erin LaBonte worried that her students were losing interest in class. She asked a friend for ideas of how to spark students’ enthusiasm, and her friend suggested having the students create a class or community drawing. After having students draw collaboratively for the past two years, Erin LaBonte decided to take the project a step further and have students produce the piece on the sidewalk in front of the college entrance. LaBonte explained, “I think it is fun and important to put art where people don’t expect it. I also hoped that we would inspire people as they entered the college.” 

LaBonte chose the image and divided it into square. The image of a small person looking up at a tree was inspired by Silver Lake’s Franciscan value for the year: Reverence for Creation. The class then decided on a quote by St. Francis to complement the image. 

Each student was responsible for a square section of the final drawing and students took care to evaluate how their section fit with the whole. Art student Abby Gerhard elaborated on the process, “At first it was kind of difficult because we all had to make sure we were not on each other’s squares. As the time went on we all were able to work together and put all the squares together.” 

Fortunately, the weather cooperated as well and the drawing lasted long enough to catch the eyes of many students, faculty members, staff, and visitors. The reaction to the drawing has been tremendously positive. The six students who created the drawing were delighted with the amount of feedback they received. 

Art student Erin Kiel responded, “I certainly hope we can do something like this again. I really enjoyed doing this project, and it was awesome to share the talents of the Art Department with the rest of the Silver Lake community.”