SAINT JOHN'S PREP MURAL

CENTENNIAL MURAL

 

In celebration of the Prep's Centennial year, Andrew Carr '02 painted a soaring mural in the main reading room of the A. E. Studzinski Library.

A bold nine feet in diameter, the oil on canvas piece depicts 100 years of Prep life. The artist divided the piece into four sections, representing religion, athletics, the arts and academics - the essential elements of a Prep education. Each of the four sections is achored in a different time period, and seen in sequence, they form a cinematic timeline that opens in 1907 with the founding of St. John's.

The narrative begins in the chapel, a tribute to the Prep's foundation in faith and to the spirituality of the Xaverian Brothers. For athletics, it moves to the 1940s and '50s, when St. John's boasted new sports facilities and its reputation as an athletic powerhouse was widely acknowledged. A production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" introduces the 1980s and '90s, when the Ryken Center for the Arts opened and the fine arts curriculum expanded. A thoroughly modern classroom, where teacher and students embody the Prep's tradition of rigorous academics, represents the present time.

Before he began painting, Carr spent time researching Prep history. Much of what he learned found its way into the mural. Intrigued to find that fraternities played a big role in life on campus for many years, for example, he added a small Sigma Nu insignia to the jacket of the student pictured in the chapel. And knowing that there was no money for stained glass windows when the chapel was built, he pictured plain glass in some of the windows. These and other small hints about the Prep's past add layers of meaning to the painting, whether it is the rainy track scene that underscores the endurance and commitment of Prep athletes, or "The Tempest" that represents an edgy, experimental approach to the arts.