Artwork Worth a Thousand Words

V. Parker
Last weekend, St. Luke’s Middle School Drama presented Celeste Raspanti's I Never Saw Another Butterfly which was inspired by drawing and poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp. A prominent part of the set included several large pieces of artwork.

St. Luke’s Performing Arts Technical Director John Connors shares the significance of these paintings in this particular production:

This play features a profoundly moving story that centers around the memories of a survivor’s unthinkable tragedy and horror as a child in the concentration camp at Terezin. The story of Raja, a Czech teenager who is forced into Terezin, is a testament to the fact that art can teach, heal, and help us survive.

Although they were forbidden to study, children at Terezin managed to attend school, where they drew and painted pictures, wrote poetry, danced, and sang.  At the heart of the story is the promise that humanity does live on despite what some have done to try to extinguish it.

In approaching this production, we knew that authenticity would be essential in honoring the children’s memories. We knew we wanted their artwork to serve as a direct link from us to them. There are many different ways we could have represented the art—through projections, by having copies of the original art printed, or by recreating it by hand. We chose to paint it ourselves.

Six pieces of artwork were chosen to represent home, whether they were images of a house, a familiar landscape, domestic effects, or representations made to feel like home.

Our tech crew hand-painted each piece, painstakingly recreating the original artwork from the children, and doing their best to represent the original work as accurately as possible. Inherent in this process is a reverence to the source material that we hoped would come through in the final product. In tracing each line, mixing each color, mimicking each brush stroke, paying very close attention to detail, we hope we were able to honor the artists’ memories and bring their work to life in our own way. We worked long and hard in our attempt to connect to the children. That connection will live with us and, I hope, come through in our production.

The pieces of artwork are now on display in the Forese Family Fireplace Commons.

View the I Never Saw Another Butterfly photo gallery which includes pictures of the production and artwork.

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St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.