Christi Whiting
Did you know that the First Congregational Church in Charlotte has a Peace Pole? It is planted in the church lawn at 106 S. Bostwick and has been there for quite some time. In fact, it’s been the topic of discussion for multiple teams within the church, who have concluded that the time has come to replace the worn-down peace pole with a more up-to-date representation.
According to Deb Cogswell, a member of the Social and Environmental Justice Committee at First Congregational Church, the goal for the creation of the new peace pole is to represent the church’s past, present, and future. It is meant to be all inclusive – connecting cultures, communities, and spiritualities through words, symbols, and pictures.
Several options were reviewed online, but the committee decided they wanted something with a more personal connection to the local community. “We knew we wanted someone local to sit down with us and listen to what we were looking for and bring that vision to life. We invited Christine Waugh-Fleischmann to join us for coffee,” said Cogswell. “After meeting with Christine we knew she was the one for the job,” she continued.
Christine Waugh-Fleischmann has life-long experience teaching art and as a fine artist, including owning her own gallery in Okemos at one time. She is the current owner/artist at Christine’s Private Gallery Sale online and CWF Design LLC. Her education includes studying Drawing, Painting and teaching at Siena Heights University; then at Western Michigan University earning her B.S. in art teaching. She then earned a Master of Arts in Visual Arts Education with a major in Painting at Eastern Michigan University. At one time Waugh-Fleischmann worked in Charlotte Public Schools as an art teacher and wrote a curriculum grant for CPS, as well as several grants for the Charlotte Community Library for Clay and Watercolor. She retired from LCC as an adjunct professor in Visual Arts and currently teaches art at St. Mary’s Elementary School. Waugh-Fleischmann also currently works at The County Journal as a graphic designer. In 2018, she illustrated a spiritual book on afterlife.
After meeting with the congregation in November of 2021, Waugh-Fleischmann began working on a proposal for the project. Due to supply chain issues, the wood arrived in May of 2022. It then needed to be sealed and primed. A life-size mock-up, and a smaller scale working sample were created, and Waugh-Fleischmann was able to get the process rolling. The actual painting began mid-June, where she estimates she has spent about 30 hours a week since then. The pillar is being hand-painted with 50+ languages from around the world, and 40 to 50 images representing peace. “The project is all about portraying peace and symbolizing peace in our world,” said Christine.
As the project nears completion – sometime before the end of September of 2022 – the church eagerly anticipates installation of the piece. The dimensions are 8” x 8” x 12’ and once installed, the pillar will reach about 8 feet in height.
Dates will be determined as some of the logistics are addressed. Stay tuned for progress updates as well as the announcement of the installation and dedication of the Pillar of Peace.
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