Seattle Waldorf School Unveils Cosmic Mural
Waldorf 100 Anniversary Celebration on September 19, 2019
Many families find their way into Waldorf schools through their children, and artist John Jacobs is no exception. John and his wife, Nancy Pfeiffer (also an artist), found their way to a Waldorf preschool with their daughter, Robin — an event that launched a decades long Waldorf journey for the whole Jacobs/Pfeiffer family, and has cultivated their deep interest in its underpinnings, anthroposophy. Collectively, their three children Robin (2006), David (2011), and Peter (2016) have attended the Whidbey Island Waldorf School, Seattle Waldorf High School, and Hazel Wolf High School through its transition into Seattle Waldorf School. Today, both Robin and Nancy teach practical and fine arts at the Seattle Waldorf High School campus in Magnuson Park.
Four years ago, head of school Tracy Bennett asked John if he would be willing to create a mural for the school. The newly renovated Meadowbrook building called out for artwork, and Tracy wanted to support artistic endeavors within the community. Says Tracy, “John thought for a moment, I saw his eyes light up, and I knew his creative imagination was already at work.” With input from Robin and David, John started to brainstorm concepts for the piece. Then, as adult children do, they got busy with their own lives — Robin with teaching, Peter at university, and David traveling the world. But John proceeded with the project, knowing that he wanted to incorporate the threefold aspects of anthroposophy, which he has studied extensively over the years.
Evolving concepts for the piece resulted in the work entitled Waltz of Time, a tryptic that depicts warmth, motion, and an otherworldliness saturated with colors that shine even on the grayest of days. Featuring three celestial entities — Earth, moon, and sun — it invites the mind to embark on a fantastical journey representing the passage of time. The lemniscate threads capture both a feeling of movement and an everlasting presence.
For John in his creation process, painting in acrylic added its own challenges. The colors are harder to mix and blend over a large surface. Acrylic colors are difficult to mix, because they dry darker than when mixed wet. In response, John experimented with pointillism, to great success. The colors blended visually, and the end result gave the effect of vibrancy, depth and warmth.
John’s ultimate hope was to create a painting that students of all ages could enjoy — and when the artwork was unveiled at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Waldorf Education on September 19, 2019 to a chorus of oohs and aahs, delight was palpable.
Now, even the youngest students gaze upward to glimpse a glorious sun, unconsciously drawn in by vibrant colors, floating orbs, and curious blue-green spirals unraveling across a sparkling galaxy. Those who have studied anthroposophy may have a deeper appreciation for the layers of symbolism depicted by the planetary evolution of humanity through time and the many aspects of threefoldness.
John W. Jacobs studied sculpture and painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Though he has been a woodworker, builder and general contractor for most of his working life, art and design have always been major foundations in his work. Though he loves painting, he sees himself mostly as a sculptor.