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Pure, fresh snow covers a dark day in artist's life

Newtown native wins St. Francis Festival of Trees wine label design competition

Published on Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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Cheryl Childers drew trees that were dark and bare contrasted by the stark white of untouched snow. The design was chosen the winner for the Festival of Trees wine label.

Cheryl Childers drew trees that were dark and bare contrasted by the stark white of untouched snow. The design was chosen the winner for the Festival of Trees wine label.



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"Creativity is essential to me to help me find balance in a tilted world."

Cheryl Childers

Cheryl Childers wanted to share the innocence of her childhood as a reminder of what life was like at Christmas in her hometown of Newtown, Conn. She drew a design of simplicity and purity through a child’s eyes looking out a window at a new layer of snow that blanketed her world.

The design was chosen as the Festival of Trees wine label.

Childers is a Licensed Medical Social Worker with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and works in Open Arms Hospice McCall Hospice House. She routinely sees emotions – grief, sadness, anger and joy – while working with hospice patients and their families, all a part of letting go of someone loved.

When asked about the inspiration behind such simplistic winter elegance, Childers shared a piece of her childhood history buried under a world of sadness that few in this area would understand. 

She talked about Christmas as a child in a place hardly anyone even knew about until one very dark day. “I grew up in Newtown, Connecticut – a sleepy little dairy town, never heard of before the tragedy of Dec. 14, 2012. Growing up, there were many nights when it would snow all night, and I remember waking up to a fresh clean blanket of white,” Childers said.

“The trees were dark and bare contrasted by the stark white of untouched snow. I always wanted to somehow keep the snow pristine. I was thinking back to that peaceful image in my mind when I created this piece.”

The tragedy Childers refers to is the day 20 children and six adult staff members were fatally shot in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.

Childers said creating art is therapy.  It helps her heal and continue the work supporting and counseling patients and families.

“When I create artwork, the world around me goes away, and it’s just me and the canvas,” Childers said.”

“I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 15, and as a teen I found that when I worked on a piece, I felt no pain. Painting allows me to find freedom in the stress of day-to-day life. It takes time to create art, but I’ve learned no matter how busy I get, there is great value in taking the time to utilize my creative side. Creativity is essential to me to help me find balance in a tilted world.”

The Festival of Trees illuminates downtown, as one of the Christmas holiday attractions for Greenville. Each year there’s a competition to find the best decorated tree and for Bon Secours St. Francis employees, to create the best wine label design. 

“I am completely speechless, and am truly honored that my artwork was chosen – I had some great competition,” Childers said. “I’m very excited to have my artwork represent the (St. Francis) Foundation on the wine label.”

Childers works in various types of mediums, but prefers oils the most.

The Festival of Trees celebration is held every Christmas holiday, Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, inside the Hyatt Regency Downtown, the Hampton Inn & Suites RiverPlace and the Courtyard-Greenville Downtown.

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