Entrance Mosaic by South Shore Students Welcomes Community with Creativity
“It was really fun and really hard work,” one eighth grader at South Shore Fine Arts Academy told me of her recent experience creating a mosaic for her school’s entrance. Having tried mosaicking for the first time at our Urban Gateways staff retreat in September (and having realized I would need about two dozen more lessons to get it right), I believed her; mosaicking is intricate, time-consuming, and requires immense concentration, rendering the students’ achievement all the more impressive.
This mosaic project was part of an Urban Gateways visual arts residency with talented teaching artists Nicole Beck and James Jankowiak. Students first spent two weeks with James learning visual arts skills like color theory, and then launched into a three-week intensive mosaicking project with Nicole. The mosaicking process was student-centric from start to finish: Participants in the program sketched designs to represent their school community (a ballerina to represent the fine arts focus, a lion to incorporate the school mascot, etc) and then transferred their sketches to mosaic by cutting tiles, discussing color choices with Nicole, and laying everything down on panels to be installed above the school entrance. According to Nicole, students “worked their tails off” to get their mosaic ready for installation. In fact, Nicole said that if the opportunity presents itself to add more panels to this mosaic in the near future, she hopes she can work with the same group of students because of the steep learning curve involved in mosaic art.
SSFAA has been a wonderful Urban Gateways partner, hosting African dance, puppetry, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs for their students in addition to this mosaic project. We are thrilled that they were able to take their school environment’s welcoming and creative personality and translate it to this project. Even better that their students were the ones to take that welcome into their own hands and make it visible to anyone passing by.
Photos of Nicole Beck and SSFAA students working on their mosaic and showing off the completed installation:
Photo credits from top: James Jankowiak, Alayna Kudalis (2).