Wall at Visitation Academy Is a Walk through History Students Depict Events from Nuns' Order, School, St. Louis

By Rattini, Kristin Baird | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

Wall at Visitation Academy Is a Walk through History Students Depict Events from Nuns' Order, School, St. Louis


Rattini, Kristin Baird, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Art students at Visitation Academy have transformed one of the school's walls into a window on the past.

Working side by side throughout the summer, about 20 girls created a mural that chronicles not only the 387-year history of the Order of the Visitation but also the 164-year history of Visitation Academy and highlights of St. Louis' past.

Starting with a stunning rendering of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth in biblical times, the mural travels with scenic stops both less familiar - Pierre de Sales' triumph in the Crusades, the founding of Kaskaskia Academy - and familiar - Dred Scott, the 1904 World's Fair and the Cardinals. "I am so proud of the girls," said Barbara Olson, the art teacher who supervised the project. The idea for a mural came three years ago, but the idea was not set into motion until last winter. At the time, art students were painting a mural about the history of art on one of Olson's classroom walls. The time and talent seemed right for making the historical school mural happen. "All I could think was, `Not another mural,' " said Laura Fischer, a senior who designed the art room's mural. "I was totally burned out from the first one." Her enthusiasm quickly rekindled. Laura and fellow seniors Caroline Wefel and Aimee Walther - all advanced studio-art students - worked with Olson to sketch scenes that would portray important moments in Visitation's history. Transferring those small sketches onto the chosen wall in Cass Commons proved to be a challenge. A narrow hallway prevented the girls from moving their projector back far enough, so they had to transfer many images to large rolls of paper and then to the wall. Sunlight filtering through windows made working during the day almost impossible. So as the sun set, t he girls rushed to beat the clock and the school's closing to finish stenciling the wall. "We had from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to get the work done," said Aimee. As the painting began, so did the detail work. For a depiction of the order's house on Cass Avenue, Olson learned from a history book that pink and white rose bushes bordered the house, and a white mare named Jenny grazed on the grounds. …

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