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Ohio Wesleyan's Peale Chapel Experiences Make Over

May 9, 2006

DELAWARE, OHIO — Ohio Wesleyan senior Cheryl Miller was looking for a project that would connect her interest in professional art and social work for a senior project.And she found it in Ohio Wesleyan’s Norman Vincent Peale Chapel in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. "I wanted to create a sacred space undefined by a religion," Miller said. "With consultation with Chaplain [Jon] Powers we decided for the installation to be placed in Peale Chapel and for it to remain a permanent installation. My idea of an all welcoming space meets the core values of what Peale was created for."Miller worked with her advisor Phyllis Kloda, professor of fine arts, to create a senior art project that was fitting for the space. "Cheryl always impresses me," said Kloda. "She was constantly looking at ways to creatively move the project forward to completion. She has become very detail oriented, understands how to involve others to help her and most of all has faith that things will fall into place."Miller’s experience at Ohio Wesleyan has been a colorful one, with an experience with the New York Arts Program and internship in London. "I have known Cheryl for four years," said Kloda. "She started out as a quiet freshman and has grown immensely as a person and artist while here at OWU."That growth would be needed — and proven — as she took on one of the most ambitious senior projects Kloda has ever experienced. "She accomplished most of her goals that she set for herself," said Kloda. "She also had the wisdom to allow certain aspects to fall by the wayside during the project so that she could finish her goals on time."Miller’s work is on all aspects of the rededicated space. She designed the visual elements, selected the colors, and developed sketches to share her vision with Kloda and Chaplain Powers. Knowing that she needed help to make the project work, Miller joined forces with roommates Brittany Hicar and Mallory Martin and involved a group of Delaware County juvenile court teens. "The two [Hicar and Martin] were interning at the juvenile court and we put our resources together to create an art program for the youth where they would meet once a week starting in November up to the dedication," said Miller. "This was a very rewarding experience for all three of us and I hope other students take our lead and create similar programs."She also wrote — and received — a Lilly Grant to support the project. "Without the funding of the Lilly Foundation this could have never happened," said Miller. "Approximately 80 percent of the funding was attributed to the foundation."However, for Chaplain Powers the connection goes deeper than monetary support. "Cheryl’s story is only one of many illustrations of our Lilly Vision OWU mantra: ‘your divine calling comes to you when your deepest passion meds one of the world’s greatest needs (Frederick Buechner, ala Parker Palmer),’" wrote Powers in a campus-wide e-mail. The Lilly Program is a grant the University received to work with students to align their career aspirations with their faith. "For Cheryl, theology was the mortar that brought her contradictory passions into professional perspective," Powers continued. "It was the varied resources and programs of the Lilly Vision OWU that brought this all together for her."The discussions spawned by the Lilly Grant and her senior project established the next path in Miller’s educational career — she will attend graduate school at Maryland Institute of Community Art with plans to earn a M.A. in community arts. "The program is centered around hands on projects with community members of Baltimore in the arts," Miller said. "I was drawn to this program because it combines my passion for art with social work. I also see the great healing power of art and it is a passion that has developed strongly through my involvement with this project."

Miller is a student that has Kloda excited, "I can’t wait to see what Cheryl is doing ten years from now — I am positive it will be astounding."