PRINCETON — Telling the Christmas story has taken on the form of a frieze at Open Prairie United Church of Christ.
A frieze depicts a pictorial history, and in this case, white paint on dark royal blue fabric portrays both the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. Using the brilliant work of Annie Vallotton’s illustrations from “Good News for Modern Man” as inspiration, a similar free style evolved from each of the volunteer painters.
The frieze is comprised of nine panels suspended from the ceiling along the east and west walls of the sanctuary. It took courage to design and paint a piece of fabric that stretched horizontally 10 1/2 feet and is only 18 inches long.
The church was made available for people to come in at different times and work at long tables drafting out their ideas. Usually ideas were sketched out on paper before they progressed to free-hand sketching with chalk onto the frieze. Once the images of the scripture were drafted onto the frieze, applying the paint went rather quickly. Finally, the liturgy was spaced evenly around the images.
The final frieze, hung above the entrance, depicts the most recent history of the tornado in Washington, Ill., East Peoria and Pekin. It reads: “Through devastation and abundance, we will walk in the Light.” It’s current history and we wanted to bring that event into the midst as a remembrance of how friends and families have suffered. The inspiration to attempt this art form came from Ron McCutchan.
The artists were Sue Stumph, Barry Mayworm, Michelle Heider, Heather Heider, Lilith Gray, Ardyn Johnson, Marek Johnson, Allana Lewis, Rylan Decker, Jasen Clark, Susan Hale, Angie Hughes, Danielle Hughes, Katrina Rudolph, Mimi Cofoid and Linda Ernst.