Sister Jody O’Neil takes part in ‘tasty’ art project
An email Sister Jody O’Neil received in October was all the Providence she needed.
Sister Jody’s long-time friend, Susan Tingley, had contacted her asking if she would be interested in taking part in the Coca-Cola Bottle Sculptures public art project, a major part of the branding of Terre Haute as the birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle.
Tingley, who serves as the Development Director for the Vigo County Historical Society & Museum, was taught by Sister Jody at St. Ann School in Terre Haute and had thought of her former teacher when she learned of the project.
The project, initially inspired by the Coca-Cola Bottle Sculpture Committee, was to paint a fiberglass bottle – measuring nearly 6-feet tall and weighing 60-pounds. The bottles were created by Fiberglass Animals, based in Nebraska.
The creators of the project also specified that the Coca-Cola logo not appear on the bottles.
Each artist taking part in the project was matched with a sponsor. Sister Jody eventually elected to paint two of the bottles and was matched with the Terre Haute Regional Airport and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), her alma mater.
“Terre Haute Regional Airport specifically asked me to include vintage airplanes and Paul Cox Field on the bottle,” Sister Jody said. “Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College suggested sites on campus, students and more to be on the bottle.”
Each artist involved in the project was encouraged to create their work in a public space, so Sister Jody chose space in the Sisters of Providence water plant.
The bottles arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods just before Thanksgiving and Sister Jody got to work. All of the artists involved in the project were also encouraged to enlist others to participate in the project, and Sister Jody had help from a handful of SMWC students.
“My contact person at the college is Rebecca Andrews, chairperson of the Department of Art & Design,” Sister Jody said. “One of her senior art students, Jordyn Lloyd, has been my lead art student contact. I also had assistance from senior Bry’Chell Johnson and 2017 graduate and artist Bria Hill.
“I really wanted students involved with the college bottle because it is their college. It is part of their life.”
Sister Jody said she did labor through some difficulties when creating the designs on the bottles.
“One of my first challenges was to mix blue tones to create Pomeroy Blue for the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College bottle,” she said. “Another was to expand my painting experience from acrylic painting on a flat surface to a three-dimensional bottle sculpture. This was the first time I have painted on a curve. It was difficult.
“However, I am pleased with both bottles.”
A preview party for all finished painted bottles is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m., on Thursday, March 22, at the building located next to the McDonald Law Office, 658 Walnut St., Terre Haute. Admission is $5, and refreshments – along with free Coca-Cola products – will be served.