by Dennis Dalman
Cori Schneider strongly believes a school building should be warm, soulful, comfortable and stimulating – a fun place for students to hang out in.
She also knows first-hand that schools can be transformed into just those qualities through the power of art.
That is why Schneider spearheaded the founding of the Art in Motion program three years ago in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. (See related story.)
Schneider is an artist who paints with oils and acrylics and also makes jewelry. She and her husband, Scott, are the parents of Kempton Schneider, a Sartell High School junior and avid soccer player; and of Siena Schneider, who graduated from Sartell High School two years ago and is now a student studying business at the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul.
Schneider worked hard to get the Art in Motion program going, but when it did, she was astounded by the warm support it received from students, teachers, administrators and even visitors to the school. She had heard herself and from others who talked with student visitors from other schools about how they marvel at the student art that adorns the entryway and halls in the high school.
One visiting student, seeing the aquatic mural in a stairwell, exclaimed, “I wish our school had all this art. Seeing this just makes me happy.”
Schneider said she was also pleased to see with what enthusiasm teachers incorporated the art works into their curricula, combining art, photography, industrial technology and even math into the processes that went into making the art projects.
“It seems everybody’s loving it,” said Schneider, who then paused and added with a chuckle, “Well . . . maybe the janitors are not loving it so much.”
Sometimes art-in-progress, she explained, can be somewhat messy and a bit disruptive, especially in school hallways.
So far, there have been several unique Art in Motion projects. They include, most recently, a repurposing of some actual seats from the former Twins stadium as a “bench” seating configuration for the high-school lobby; a gallery of laser-engraved images from photos of students in the lobby; a painting of a birch tree on panels; an underwater painting of tropical fish in a stairwell; and art mobiles placed above stairwells.
Upcoming Art in Motion projects will involve area mural artist Bob McCoy leading students in creating a trompe l’oeil (trick the eye) painting above the lockers in the hallways; and Minneapolis performance artist Pamela Sukham (a Sartell High School graduate of years ago), who will involve students in an art festival, a music-and-lights show and an “arts pep fest.” Sukham does a painting in front of the students, then fine-tunes and finishes the piece later before donating it to a place in the school.
Schneider said she is thankful so many people support the Art in Motion, even arts groups and foundations beyond Sartell. The Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation, she said, has always been happy to give financial support to the projects. Without such a network of support, she emphasized, Art in Motion could not exist.
Cori Schneider, an accomplished artist, began the Art in Motion project for Sartell-St. Stephen schools three years ago. Schneider is passionately dedicated to the idea that participation in art by all students is a very important facet of education that can bring a lifetime of rewards and personal enrichment. As this photo suggests, Schneider’s own art ranges from the classical-serious to the comical-whimsical.