Although it’s been artistically reinterpreted hundreds of times since Hurricane Katrina, the fleur-de-lis hanging above the stage of this year’s Catholic Schools Week Art/Music Festival at Lakeside is a true original.
Created by Rebecca Sigler, an Archbishop Hannan High junior, and chosen from 460 entries as the overall winner of this year’s archdiocese-wide banner design contest, each of the fleur-de-lis’ petals represents a different aspect of the 2012 Catholic Schools Week theme of “Faith. Academics. Service.”
But making the piece even more special to Rebecca is how she was able to work in elements of Hannan’s campus into her artwork:
• Outlined in black rosary beads, the fleur-de-lis’ central petal of “Faith” depicts Rebecca’s favorite campus spot: Hannan’s chapel of yellow-hued stained glass.
• Beneath the stack of books illustrating the “Academics” petal, an easel displays a canvas showing an oak tree – a symbol of Hannan’s tree-shaded Covington campus and an image alluded to in the high school’s alma mater.
• “Service” is depicted as two hands joined together, one of them encircled by a rosary.
“Service is about embracing everyone – poor and rich; Catholic, non-Catholic; it doesn’t matter,” noted Rebecca, 17, pointing to yet another campus feature on the banner – the grotto dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
The artist, who has loved making art since childhood, and draws inspiration from her collection of photographs and sights she sees “just walking around,” said the banner is her first big painting job.
“I’m big with colored pencil, charcoal, graphite – things I can work with my fingers, but I’m starting to get into the painting groove and I’m starting to like it!” she said.
“My mom is an artist as well, so it’s genetic,” Rebecca added, noting that the mother-daughter duo have a home business in which they create fleur-de-lis based on different New Orleans themes – such as “the French Quarter” and “gumbo” – and sell prints of their work at Adler’s.
But her favorite piece to date is one she just completed: a pro-life drawing executed in her favorite medium of pencil.
“It’s a picture of a mother,” Rebecca said. “She’s looking up and she’s crying as her unborn child kisses her on the nose.”
The piece, called “Forget Me Not,” is done in gray pencil, except for the bouquet of blue forget-me-not flowers in the infant’s hands. Rebecca, who recently participated in the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., said her piece is open to interpretation.
“I didn’t really restrict it to if she’d had an abortion or if she had just lost a child. I figured it could speak to different people in different ways,” she said.
Rebecca, who currently takes Hannan’s Art II elective, said she and her fellow students have “flourished tremendously” in Hannan’s art program.
In addition to being a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, Rebecca is a member of St. Peter Parish’s “TORCH” youth group, Archbishop Hannan’s student council secretary, a student ambassador, a member of the campus ministry team and her girls’ basketball team captain. She also was recently elected “District II” president of the Louisiana Association of Student Councils, which covers St. Tammany, St. Helena, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes.
“Rebecca has a really good ability to visualize,” said her Hannan art teacher, Cheryl Lee. “Her technique, particularly with pen and pencil, is excellent. She has such good potential for the future as an artist, if she chooses – I’m just so proud to have the opportunity to teach her,” Lee said.
Rebecca said placing the much larger version of her 8 1/2-by-11-inch design onto her banner’s cloth canvas was the project’s biggest challenge. After casting a projected image of her original drawing onto the cloth and tracing out each element in pencil, Rebecca and three friends – Rebekah Day, Kourtney Motichek and Olivia Hocevar – filled in the banner with bold acrylic paint.
“And my mom helped me paint, too, after school one day,” said Rebecca, who is considering a career in graphic art.
“Art is very liberating, very freeing. It clears my mind,” Rebecca said. “Once I’m involved in a piece, I’m consumed by it and I’ll do it in two days, because it’s all I can think about.”
Rebecca’s banner will be on display Jan. 24-28 at the CSW Art/Music Festival at Lakeside.
Beth Donze can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.