Artworks in Schools

ArtWorks in Schools was a CCA public arts initiative co-chaired by Mary Ellen Dillard (CCA Board member 1997-2006) and Gayla Borgognoni. Together they led a committee of dedicated volunteers in raising nearly $100,000 in local contributions to place significant works of art in Carbondale’s public schools. The committee’s purpose was to honor and beautify the public spaces where the community’s most valuable assets spend the majority of their time, and to teach young citizens about the power of art to spark imagination and ignite communication.

John Medwedeff (right) in his studio forging on of the Parhelion sectionsJohn Medwedeff (right) in his studio forging on of the Parhelion sectionsParhelion, designed and fabricated by area sculptor John Medwedeff (Medwedeff Forge and Design) was the first ArtWorks commission. It stands nearly 24 feet tall outside the main entrance to Carbondale Community High School, where it has become an icon of the quest for knowledge that takes place within the school.




Ed Shay with Ben Chametzky, one of the CMS students who worked with him to identify concepts for inclusion in the workEd Shay with Ben Chametzky, one of the CMS students who worked with him to identify concepts for inclusion in the workRosetta Stone is a triptych installed just inside the main entrance to Carbondale Middle School. The painting was commissioned by the ArtWorks Committee from Ed Shay (emeritus professor of Art and Design at SIUC.) As the detail to the left illustrates, Shay worked with CMS students to identify and incorporate symbols of the educational concepts that CMS students encounter during their middel school experiences.


This bronze sculpture was selected to greet visitors to Carbondale’s Thomas School, where all second grade students are taught to play the violin.This unique curriculum enhancement was inspired by a concert visit from visiting artists, the Kavani String Quartet, in 2003. The Kavani’s concert and related workshops left an indelible impresssion on students and faculty alike and lead to a community-university arts education initiative that was supported in part by CCA’s [Southern Arts Fund] The resulting Thomas Strings Program has become a model for early string education throughout the region.




At Lewis School, where Carbondale fourth and fifth graders hone their reading skills, students and visitors are welcomed by this a young boy and girl reading together on a log. Selected to remind students that books are not just for school, the installation was made possible by a gift from members Lewis family whose parents gifted the land upon which the school was built.


Parrish School houses Carbondale’s youngest learners and sits on a parcel of land that was the former site of the Parrish Family Farm, where major ArtWorks donor Dan Parrish fondly remembers riding horses as a youngster. The young riders pictured in this ArtWorks bronze are a whimsical reminder of the school’s once rural setting.


In 2003, to honor the All Southern High School Theatre Project (ASHSTP - another CCA arts education initiative), and to raise funds for public school art installations, CCA’s ArtWorks in Schools Committee began hosting ASHSTP Opening Night Dinners. With the accomplishment of its primary ArtWorks mission in 2008, the Committee dedicated its final Dinner proceeds to the establishment of a permanent scholarship fund for the ASHSTP. In 2009, the CCA Board of Directors decided to continue the Dinner as a permanent ASHSTP scholarship fundraiser in honor of Mary Ellen Dillard, the driving force behind ArtWorks in Schools and an inspiring leader in all of CCA’s arts education endeavors.

Thanks to the members of CCA’s ArtWorks in Schools Core Committee for five years of tireless efforts on behalf of this project.

Gayla Borgognoni
Mary Ellen Dillard
Core Committee:
David Coracy
Mary Lou Goodman
Amber Hanson
Joan Harris
Barbara Levine
Elizabeth Lewin
Brad Moore
Rene Potter
Emil Spees
Nancy Stemper
Pat Waters
Gail White

Development and Design by Splattered Ink