Local students bring awareness to remodeling of Harry Nice Bridge
Lackey High School students have paintings hung in Charles County Government building
Art is taught as a form of expression and the Henry E. Lackey High School students used their own artistic values to highlight the much needed repairs to the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge that connects Charles County to Virginia. The students used creativity and their own perception of the bridge to paint a picturesque version of a painting done by their art teacher, Vicki Marckel, of the bridge and the Charles County Commissioners honored Marckel’s talented students for their efforts.
On May 26, the County Government building displayed Lackey students’ paintings of the bridge and held a brief ceremony for the students and their families. During the official hanging of the paintings, each of Marckel’s students received a certificate of recognition from the Charles County commissioners.
“I think this really shows this partnership between government and our community, and anything we can do to support them is something that we should be doing,” said Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D). “Marckel has taken this out of her classroom and brought it here so that it engages everybody that works here. Every time we walk down that hallway it’s a reminder of the good things that are going on in this county.”
Virginia R. McGraw, chairwoman of board of education, thanked the commissioners for showcasing a few of the “remarkable” Charles County students who were involved in the painting of the Potomac River bridge.
“We truly appreciate the partnership that we have in teaching our students,” McGraw said.
The paintings are a result of the “Paint-In” event held by Marckel and her art students that took place on April 30 at Captain Billy’s Crab Restaurant in Newburg.
“It was a good experience being able to capture the bridge from a point of view where it shows that it needs work because I used to travel on the Harry Nice Bridge to get to horse shows and you can tell, even with us carrying a horse trailer over the bridge, that it needs work,” said Lilly Collins, 16, a sophomore at Lackey.
“I didn’t paint the bridge with a nighttime perspective to try to be different, I just wanted to try a different way of mixing colors and I really like expressing ideas and point of views,” said senior Timothy Crawford, 18. “I wanted the painting to be something you had to look for and stare at closely. The bridge showed a beautiful part of Southern Maryland that is also atmospheric. The bridge shows an amount of wonder that I didn’t know could happen.”
Kavante Barham-Reeves, 16, a sophomore, said Marckel taught the students to first paint what they want and then paint what they want people to see. In this case, the students wanted others to see and understand the importance of the bridge.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) and Marckel both live in Newburg, so he was ecstatic when she asked if she could do something creative to help get the bridge redone.
“I think everyone is in agreement that the Harry Nice Bridge belongs in a museum,” Robinson said. “I’ve been an advocate for replacing the bridge for many years. It’s a beautiful bridge to paint but its not functional. Vicki Marckel is doing her share by putting the bridge on canvas. Marckel’s work will be on display at the Crain Memorial Welcome Center right at the foot of the bridge and we have hundreds of people passing through everyday who will get to see her work. Her efforts will memorialize the bridge for years to come.”
Marckel has been a fine arts teacher at Lackey High School for more than 10 years. Her work has been featured in private and public collections, won several awards, and is on permanent display at the Jarrett Thor Art Gallery. In 2015, she was commissioned by the Catholic Coalition of the Archbishops to paint “Saints of God, Come to Our Aid.” The painting, which featured the saints of the Americas, was given to Pope Francis during his visit to the United States last year and is hanging in the Vatican. Now Marckel has given her students an opportunity to help draw attention to one of Charles County’s notable landmarks.
“I travel over the bridge often for art exhibitions and workshops in Virginia so I know first-hand how badly the bridge needs to be replaced and I asked Commissioner Robinson how I could help,” Marckel said. “I wanted to use my art to express something political and the changes that you want to see in the community in a positive way and this was also a phenomenal opportunity for my students.”
Marckel said the energy she receives from her students is infectious and she strives to continue painting and inspiring others to be creative.
“Now my students get to experience having their work on display at this wonderful exhibition at the County Government Building,” Marckel said. “This is truly the best moment as a painter. The students seeing their success, seeing the parents get to see their children being honored, and the students getting a chance to shine where it’s just about them and what they’ve accomplished.”
On May 26, Lackey High School art teacher Vicki Marckel’s art students who submitted paintings of the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge received certificates of recognition from the Charles County Commissioners (Commissioner Ken Robinson in the middle and Commissioner President Peter F. Murphy on the far right) and had their paintings hung at the Charles County Government building.