Hatteberg's People - Catharine Magal

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On Hatteberg’s People, in Concordia, a small town is taking on a big project. The outside wall of the local historical museum will soon be transformed into a massive piece of brick sculpture depicting the area history. It’s being done by lead St. Louis artist Catharine Magal and artist Mara Smith.

At Cloud County Community College, with these rough working sketches, a dream is slowing turning to reality in Concordia.

(Catharine Magal – Artist) “Oh we’re having a blast.”

Concordia is home to over 5,000 people with a rich local history. This now vacant wall now waits for artwork that will showcase the area’s past in brick and art.

(Catharine Magal) “And it is a community project that takes a different kind of approach than producing a piece in your studio and sending it out to the public.

Catharine Magal is the artist, Mara Smith is the lead assistant and together with some volunteers they are sculpting with clay Concordia’s History. A history that will soon be placed here where a rugged paint-peeled wall waits to be transformed.

(Catharine Magal) “Well the first challenge I’ll say was just doing the working drawings because they were so gigantic. The first time I put one on the wall I just looked at the paper and thought, Oh my gosh, this is huge.”

Huge is right. The mural will be 140 feet long and 20 feet high utilizing 6,400 clay bricks, each weighing 26 pounds.

(Catharane Magal) “We can pull people together through projects. It’s just that simple, it really is that simple.”

Each large panel is made up of hundreds of bricks and they depict the historical part of Concordia’s history.

(Mara Smith) “I enjoy working in the clay and any artist wants to be working and that is my really big enjoyment. I enjoy working.”

These finished carved panels are then numbered and taken apart brick by brick for firing. That occurs here on the edge of Concordia in rolling hills at a company called Cloud Ceramics. Without the existence of this large company, organizers say the project wouldn’t be possible.

“This is the very first one we have done at Cloud ceramics and it is supposed to be the longest one in the United States when it is all said and done.”

The carving began over a year ago and now panel by panel and brick by brick it is taking shape. At a cost of $350,000 it is a huge project for a small town.

(Lisa Guerra – Cloud County Historical Society) “I think that it helps the community share their heritage and the strength of the community. And it is reminiscent of the people, because the people are the strength of the community.”

(Catharine Magal) “So all of a sudden the community has a voice. It is no longer a silent kind of place. We have something here is meant to be expressed. I’m happy…I’m happy.”

Larry Tag: There is still much more to do. Once all the panels are carved and fired…it will take at least three months to mount them.


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