Student creates saintly images for new grade school

Annelise Coello never thought doodling in class would lead to this.

Coello, a recent graduate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Grade School, is the artist behind the images of the four evangelists that grace the front of the new regional Catholic school in Herrin. The school opened last month.

The original plan was to find statues of the evangelists to purchase, but after some discussion, the parish decided to go with etchings.

“The original artist wasn’t able to do the etchings, so the architect asked the teachers around the school who would be a good candidate and the teachers recommended me,” she said.

Coello said she was known for doodling in class. “So the teachers knew I liked to draw.”

Doodling is one thing, but how does one begin drawing religious art that will grace the entrance of a parish’s new school building for a century or more?

“Monsignor Ken (Schaefer) gave me a few pictures of what they were looking for,” she said. After researching religious art, Coello decided to go with a two-dimensional representation similar to the icon style popularized by Orthodox churches, rather than a shaded three-dimensional rendering. The result was embraced by Monsignor Ken, parish and school faculty and administrators and the entire building committee.

Principal Faye Myatt said: “The company that created the etchings required us to provide drawings. We asked the teachers if they had any artists in their classes who would be capable, and Annelise’s name came up right away. She did an excellent job, and we’re thrilled that these are truly unique to our school. She can proudly show her children and grandchildren how she contributed to the new school back when she was just an 8th grader.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the drawings,” Coello said. “And it’s been a good conversation starter.”

Coello said she has entered a few art contests and took third place in one. She says art remains her favorite class at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Cape Girardeau, Mo., though she is not sure if she will pursue it as a career.