When the Blue Sky Project moved from Woodstock, Illinois to Dayton in the summer of 2009, the arts program had a profound impact on Chris Miskell, a football player and wrestler from Miamisburg. He was chosen as one of the students mentored by Dayton dancer/choreographer/visual artist Rodney Veal.
“He came from a tough background, and had never danced before,” said Blue Sky founder and co-creator Peter Benkendorf. “It turns out, he was a poet. His poem became an integral part to Rodney’s final work. At Blue Sky, the kids can have such a profound impact on artistic work at a conceptual level.”
Here are a few lines from his poem; the first line mimics the title of the piece.
The sixth stanza:
To me you are a work of art.
From the horizon where the sun kissed the sky, To the buildings towering over those who cry.
From the manufactured, to where bones fractured, Dayton, Ohio was where my soul was captured.
The last stanza:
Now here we are,
let’s rise from the ashes and make a brand new start.
Let’s work together and make Dayton, once again, a work of art.
“His poem was breathtaking, and very instrumental to my piece,” said Veal. “It was great because it caused me to work outside of my comfort zone.”
Miskell is now a junior majoring in English education at Bowling Green State University. He’s attended a few poetry workshops, but can’t work on it as much as he’d like. He’s busy tutoring elementary students and working as a volunteer wrestling coach.
“I thought my Blue Sky experience was incredible,” said Miskell. “It meant so much to me to see my words expressed in an advanced art form.”
Miskell ended up working with Veal on another project when he wrote another poem, “Businessman.” Those verses inspired Veal to choreograph and perform “Fountain Dance” with Curtis Brown inside the Fountain at Riverscape.
“To this day, I still reminisce about the great times I had at Blue Sky,” said Miskell, 21. “I would love to be involved in a future project with them.”