Upper School art teachers Paula Westcott and Marnie McLaughlin came back from this past summer’s New York State Art Teachers Association Sagamore Summer Institute with an ambitious idea. After a week-long woodblock printing workshop, they set out to create a woodblock design and print as a tribute to Sacred Heart.
The idea took shape early in the school year while many art classes were taught outdoors and students practiced drawing elements of the beautiful school landscape. Both Mrs. Westcott and Mrs. McLaughlin find great artistic inspiration in nature. Rather than portraying the beautiful Salisbury Hall, the focus of the design became the view of the Long Island Sound and the surrounding landscape as viewed from the mansion building. Sacred Heart is the highest point in Greenwich and offers, on a clear day, unmatched sunrises and sunsets and spectacular views all the way to Long Island and even New York City. Sketches and photographs from those early September, plein air drawing classes were worked into the final design.
Both teachers agree that the project was an incredible opportunity to strengthen their printmaking skills and to demonstrate for their students a printmaking method that has been used for thousands of years. Mrs. McLaughlin reflected on the collaborative creative process saying, “It was an important example for students to see their teachers collaborate as artists on a work for our community that celebrates our love for the School.”
After completing the carving over several weeks, Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Westcott traveled to the New York State Art Teachers conference in Binghamton, NY in November to print the block on a press facilitated by printmaker Lyell Castonguay, who owns a company called, BIG INK.
Head of School Meg Frazer was rendered nearly speechless after seeing the finished project “[The print] represents so much about what Sacred Heart is all about: two creative, inspired individuals set out on a journey to discover what is possible as they reveal their love and dedication to this place…the woodblock is so full of life and important symbolism. It is a great example of celebrating who we are, what we value, and how we learn together to make beauty for others.”
Interested in seeing the print for yourself? It will be on display in the front mansion XXX in January 2022.