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'It's part of the war on terrorism'

Art students join in 'Fellowship of the Brush' funded by Sept. 11 victim's foundation


The Dominion Post 8/16/2004

In the tragedy of Sept. 11, Shelley Marshall perished inside the Pentagon along with 124 others when an airliner crashed into the western face of the building.

For her husband Donn Marshall, her memory lives on in the beauty of art and the kindness of others.

The Shelley A. Marshall Foundation, established and directed by her husband, hosted an art opening and sale of oil paintings by 10 promising high school art students at the Garlow House in Morgantown Saturday. The students' art was produced through foundation-funded workshops taught by professional painters.

"It's part of the war on terrorism," Marshall said. "I want to remind people of humanity."

The one-evening show, entitled "The Fellowship of the Brush," began at 7 p.m., and between 40 and 50 people, including several of the student artists, attended to view and purchase an array of painted landscapes.

The event attracted the attention of a national newspaper, USA Today, which had a photographer there documenting visitors throughout the evening.

On display was oil painting equipment, as well as a laptop computer showing photos of the artists as they created the works.

Megan Monahan, a Morgantown High School graduate and WVU freshman this fall, was one of the student artists present at the opening.

"I was really excited because I had never had this kind of experience," she said. "I paint a lot now."

The show's 20 beautifully rendered paintings were the result of three weekend workshops sponsored by the foundation.

Promising high school juniors and seniors interested in art from four high schools were selected to participate in the program.

Four students from Morgantown High School participated in the workshops, as well as two students each from Jefferson High School in Jefferson County in the Eastern Panhandle; Oakton High School in Vienna, Va., and Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Va.

Marshall attended Morgantown High School and his wife attended Oakton High School. Marshall currently resides in Shepherdstown in Jefferson County with his children Chandler, 4, and Drake, 6.

Laura Zazeckyte, a senior this fall at Morgantown High School and a participant in all three workshops, smiled as one of her paintings was purchased by a visitor at the opening.

"It pushed me to really decide what I want to do," she said. "It gave me a lot of ideas for future art."

The foundation provided students with all the equipment needed for the workshops, including canvases, more than 20 different oil paints and about a dozen brushes.

"The equipment is theirs to keep as long as they promise to keep painting," Marshall said.

The first workshop was on June 26 and 27 workshop and took place at Burke Lake, outside of Washington, D.C., with artist John Bannon. The July 10 and 11 session, located in Alexandria, Va., featured artist Mehran Rashidfarokhy. On July 17 and 18 Kevin Fitzgerald taught students on the eastern shore of Chincoteague, Va. Each artist teaching volunteered for the project and taught the workshops free of charge.

Prices for the students' art work were $200 for a 9-inch-by-12-inch painting and $300 for a 20-inch-by-24-inch painting.

"The profits will be split between the artist and the foundation," Marshall said.

The profits help to offset the cost of the students' equipment and fund the 2005 series of workshops, Marshall said.

Marshall created the foundation on Sept. 15, 2001, after losing his wife Shelley. To bring beauty out of tragedy and to honor Shelley, the foundation funds activities that mirror her interests -- reading to her children, creative writing and tea.

Marshall said he wanted to bring foundation activities locally because he grew up in Morgantown and because while he and Shelley lived in Washington, D.C., she greatly enjoyed visiting the area.

"She was surprised at how genuine the people were," he said. "Morgantown was kind to her, so I wanted to do something for Morgantown."

He hopes the activities will confront the inhumanity of Sept. 11 by providing activities of beauty and humanity.

"One of the reasons I set up the foundation is because I didn't want to give bin Laden the last word," he said. "I wanted to give Shelley the last word, and when you look around this room, you see beautiful words."

Copyright 2005 © The Shelley A. Marshall Foundation
14 Ryan Court
Shepherdstown, WV 25443

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