In the spring of 2020, I received the following email...
Hi Teresa, My name is Maddie Fisher and I’m the Vice President of the Class of 2020 at Phoenixville Area High School. When we started to brainstorm class gifts, your name popped into my head. Each class gives a gift to the school and we thought that a piece of art would be a great way to forever remember our class and our unique situation. We would love to incorporate the aspects of graduation, like the throwing caps, and aspects of Phoenixville ( such as the mantra of the Phoenix and rising again). We can explore options and pricing, and we could even set up a zoom with the rest of the senior council to discuss a direction for this project. Maddie Fisher
Shortly after, I took a meeting with the PAHS Senior Class Council.
First, I want to say that these women were so incredibly professional. They shared the purpose behind the gift...a way to highlight, celebrate, and commemorate their class during such unusual times.
They shared their love for their classmates, the school, and our town.
They wanted the art to reflect that.
We brainstormed some ideas and decided that Washington field was important...as was the moment of throwing caps in the air...since they would not be having a traditional graduation ceremony.
After the call, I let the ideas percolate.
I could envision the setting of the piece, the time of day, and the caps...
I couldn't figure out the best way to incorporate the idea of the Phoenix.
I knew that this was the heart of the piece.
I sent up a concept to Maddie and the Council including all the components they asked for...the field, the hands, the caps, the school...
It was a good concept, but I just sat with a nagging feeling that it was missing the "rise".
This felt so important to give them this experience...this moment...when they look at the work. That feeling that even without the Pomp and Circumstance...they can feel so proud of all their accomplishments and so excited to light the world on fire.
I prepped the canvas, got my reference photos ready, and continued to spin in my head that it was missing something.
So it sat.
It sat for a while.
The breakthrough came on a run a couple of months later. An image of the caps in the air forming the Phoenix came to me. It was perfect. Runs and showers are when I am most open to ideas and downloads.
I started to fiddle with the concept...and eventually ended up going all-in on the idea by creating a ghost image of the Phoenix rising from the sky..mimicking the caps soaring high...symbolizing the Class of 2020's rise and expanse as they take their next steps forward.
It felt right.
The bold color, the scale of the Phoenix, the energy of the caps...it all just felt right.
The class didn't get the traditional ceremony...but they weren't meant to. They were meant to create their own path...just as they've done so many times before.
I hope this piece becomes a reminder to the Class of 2020 of their strength and courage and all that still is to come as they continue to rise.