When local teacher Chris Schaufert ran into artist Judy Mountjoy at the Arts Alive Festival in Langley, neither of them realized that their chance meeting would turn into a class project.
Mountjoy was one of the vendors at the show and Schaufert, who teaches at Mission’s Cherry Hill Elementary, was drawn to her contemporary prayer flags, eventually buying three.
“We just got to talking: ‘Have you ever worked with kids before? What’s your passion?’ That conversation, which totally happened by chance, turned into this school art project,” explained Schaufert.
Mountjoy was invited to be the artist in residence for the school last fall and worked with students from Grades 3 to 5, helping them create their own prayer flags.
Prayer flag are based on the ancient Tibetan tradition which has five colours with five symbols that are meaningful. The flags are hung, and the wind is supposed to direct the energy from the symbols on these flags and put them out to the universe.
Schaufert said Mountjoy based the school project on that concept, altering it here and there.
The Mission students’ flags are mixed media, paint, fabric, textiles, and text. Each flag has:
q a charm that each student brought in that holds a personal meaning to them;
q text from the chorus of a song that students sang at the Remembrance Day assembly; and
q a pocket for them to store something extra special for safekeeping.
The flags were hung in the school gym during the Remembrance Day assembly.
The prayer flags got even more exposure when the Mission Arts Council Gallery hosted a school show from April 19 to May 7.
The show’s theme was “Happy,” and pre-school and elementary schools were invited to submit works for the display. Among the works was a wall display filled by the Cherry Hill prayer flags.
“The arts are my passion; therefore, it was such a delight to see students so thoughtfully and deeply engaged in the process when making these flags. They were genuinely grateful to Judy Mountjoy for her time, and Judy’s passion was contagious,” Schaufert said.