The Signature Project redefines spectacular.
At Lititz Elementary, teachers David Houseknecht and Melissa Reifsnyder rubbed their crystal balls and saw future inspiration for their students in an amazing art project. They applied to the Warwick Education Foundation for a $2400 Expert-in-Residence Grant to bring the Irish-born artist Patrick Dunning and his spectacular presentation of The Signature Project to their school.
Yes! we said. Not so fast, Covid replied. And a two-year wait began.
Meanwhile, at his studio in Portland, Oregon, Patrick Dunning continued carrying out his innovative vision for the 76-foot-wide, 36-foot-tall mural, its vivid images composed—so far—of over 300,000 colorful signatures on their way to becoming one million. These squiggles of pigment coalesce, at a distance, into clear, bright, instantly recognizable objects. Bold, breathtaking beauty from expressions as individual as a signature. E pluribus unum—out of many, one.
Finally, on May 13, 2022, at the first all-school assembly in two years, the show was on. And there on stage was Patrick, joyfully spreading his wings and inviting all the kids in the audience to let their imaginations take flight. And be transported not just through art but drama, music, science, technology, and nature as the mural came to digital life before their eyes.
They were happy to share their excitement afterward. “Something that really inspired me,” says Hadley, “was learning about Patrick Dunning and how many cool things you can do with art.”
Harrison “liked learning about Ireland and all the amazing places in it….about different types of paint. It felt kind of heartwarming because of his dad. The pictures all looked really cool. I loved the fieldtrip part—that was the best.”
For Thomas, “my favorite part was when he made the curtain with the eye and it reflected. I also like the tape ball and the monkey driving the train.”
Margo also “really liked the tape ball turning into the monkey riding the train.” And getting to sign her name for the mural. “And when he put the big eye banner on the bench. And learning a lot about new paints because I really like paints and painting.”
For the adults in the room, much of the fun was watching the kids’ expressions change. And knowing they were wrapped in wonder, transformed by Dunning’s talent, touched by his humanity, enchanted by his magic, and awed by the sheer scope of his imagination.
To present The Signature Project to American audiences, Patrick has driven his show across the United States 85 times and performed in 45 different states. We count ourselves fortunate that Lititz Elementary was on his itinerary this spring. And we never forget it’s your brilliant giving that opens the door for all those kids to experience something absolutely spectacular.