Earthsongs Unveils New Wall Works in Hopewell Township

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"Community," two 100 sq. ft. sculptural wall works, commissioned for the new Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell Township, NJ will be unveiled Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, 10am-4pm at the hospital's Open House.  Designed by Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella and fabricated in her Metuchen studio Earthsongs, the murals reflect the two communities associated with the hospital:  Trenton, the original location, and Hopewell Township, its new home.

Five hundred pounds of sculptural stoneware clay went into the making of the two 6'd. murals.  Designed as mandalas, they are round images that have roots in healing and spirituality across many times and cultures.  The map of each locale forms the 'eye' of its respective mandala.  Around that center are the elements that characterize the community.  And in a lighthearted spirit, extending beyond the outer edges of the mandalas are some of the major roadways, with signs and vehicles along them.  A field of stone surrounds and completes the ceramic sculpture.

For Vonderschmidt-LaStella, this has been an exciting three-year process, beginning in the late summer of 2009 when she submitted credentials and images of previous work to be considered for the commission.  Once selected as a semi-finalist, she worked for three months researching and developing concepts and models to present to Stacy Kent, the Environmental Graphic Designer responsible for the history project, and the hospital's Art Committee.  The actual fabrication of the work required one full year.


The Trenton Mandala presents the city's colonial heritage in the image of Margaret Berrien, the widow who offered her home to George Washington as his final Revolutionary War Headquarters, as well as the bridge over Assunpink Creek, the site that gave birth to Trenton's manufacturing life.  Additionally, Trenton is shown as the 'Seat of Government', incorporating the state flower, the great Seal and Capital Dome.  "Trenton Makes The World Takes" dominates another section, acknowledging the city's historical importance as a manufacturing center.  The presence of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge recognize how essential the community of Trenton was to the creation of so many of our nation's iconic bridges.  Finally, the mandala portrays Trenton as a city of working immigrants, both historically and today.

The Hopewell Mandala recognizes the prominence of agriculture in the township.   Farms, farm animals, fields and produce encompass a large section of the mural.  The religious and moral spirit of the community is embodied in the image of the children of St. Michael's Orphanage, a well-known institution in the area for over 70 years.  In creating the mural, a connection was made with some of those who lived at St. Michael's as children, and the mandala subsequently has become a way to honor the lives of those who lived there.  Hopewell's care for the environment and their interest in Green Initiatives gave rise to a section that celebrates that.  And finally, the patriotism of the people of this area is highlighted with a remembrance of John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence and all those from the area in every war who received Congressional Medals of Honor.

The Community mural is located on a freestanding wall in the dining area of the new hospital.  It is one of five permanently installed works commissioned for the hospital's history installation, but the only commissioned sculpture.

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