In Lincoln, one man, one woman and their families
have dealt with such overwhelming personal losses by turning to art,
and then by giving to others. They have chosen to transform their
grief by creating objects of beauty, selling them and then giving
the profits of their sales to benefit youth.
Verl Prather has not been able to return to his job
following two separate injuries. The Ward 2 alderman for the city of
Lincoln normally speaks with strong, clear thoughts, but struggles
to find adequate words to express how much the art is aiding in his
recovery. He says that creating the mosaics has been great therapy.
"You wouldn't believe how much it helps," he said.
Prather has been developing his artistic skill under
the guidance of art teacher Shanda Roderick. She's a great teacher,
and she creates great work too, Prather said.
Many of the mosaics that they are creating are made
using stunning blue Italian mosaic glass. It's the world's finest
and very expensive, and there is nothing else like it, they say.
The designs pop to life as light passes through the
transparent glass portions of the mosaics. When the mosaics are
finished they are framed and either placed where natural light would
illuminate them, or the backside is enclosed and they are
Prather created a custom design in remembrance of
9/11 to honor our local police and fire officers. During the Sept. 2
meeting of the Lincoln City Council, he, Roderick and their children
presented fire Chief Kent Hulett and police Chief Stuart Erlenbush
with the image of a firefighter kneeling to pray.
Prather said, "Considering the tragic losses our
families have faced, and the upcoming Sept. 11 anniversary, we felt
compelled to present this piece of art to recognize those who have
devoted so much dedication to our community.
"Our experiences have shown us firsthand the
professionalism and skill these men and women possess.
"Their devoted service much too often goes
unappreciated. We appreciate them and sincerely thank them."
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
Below is the story submitted by Verl Prather of how
this new art form began, and how the profits from sales are now
being used to introduce local youth to the love of music and art.
Wyatt Mitchell Mosaics
& Unique Arts
Creating custom and original art
We have recently formed a foundation based on the
ideas and visions Shanda has had ever since the loss of her son.
Wyatt Mitchell was 3 years old when he was called
home in a house fire in 2004. Since then Shanda has prayed and
dreamed of being able to find a way to keep art alive in youth who
would otherwise not have the resources, and at the same time honor
her late son.
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As many of you may know, I lost my father in 2007 in a flood. Since
then I have been trying to come up with some way to help with youth
music programs in honor of my dad, Verl Jr. He was a well-known
regional musician who always loved helping kids learn music.
Together, Shanda, our family and I have joined
forces and begun using the artistic talents and skills that God has
given our family to help others in the name of our loved ones.
Our ultimate goal is to provide art and music
scholarships. Meanwhile, until funds are realized, we will start by
providing musical instruments to those children who may otherwise
not get the opportunity to be in a school band.
We are also seeking and teaching children basic art
classes in our home art studio.
The unique art we presented is an idea that Shanda
began doing. To date we have not found anyone else who uses mosaic
tiles creating a stained-glass effect.
We will soon be offering pottery and woodwork
We also make every effort to use scrap glass and
wood that would otherwise fill our landfills. The local glass
businesses and Hundman Lumber have been very generous to our cause.
Our Web site is under construction at this time but
soon will display the wide variety of images that we can produce on
glass. Our preference is to take custom orders so that customers can
get the exact product that they have in mind. We can create almost
any image that you can imagine with these glass pieces.
We are graciously accepting a range of donations.
They may be monetary, music instruments, art supplies, glass or
The proceeds will enable us to see our dream of
helping the youth in our community come true.
Call Verl or Shanda at 217-737-9769 or 217-737-9761.
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