Community Mosaic Project: Tree of Learning

Back in June, I blogged about cultural enrichment programs in schools. In that post, I described a project that had just been started at my kids' school- a large mosaic mural dedicated to the school's retiring Principal, Jay Ryan. I was excited about the project at that early stage, but that was nothing compared to how I felt once we began the installation.

Joanne Smith, the art teacher, had asked for parent volunteers to help install the leaves and trunk of the tree. Jim Bowen, mosaic artist, would guide the whole process. I signed up immediately!

(Students, parents, staff, etc. had been invited to provide small items for the mosaic. Small leaves and the larger trunk pieces were created in the art room in the weeks leading up to the installation. Everyone had an opportunity to help glue the items-plus various pieces of pottery- onto leaf shaped pieces of mesh.
We would then install those mesh pieces on the wall in the school's entryway. To learn more, please read Jim's blogpost about this project).

Jim and I started by roughing up the paint finish with fine sand paper.


Then, another parent named Ilana (sadly, no photo of her working!) covered the back of each piece with thin set, handed it to us, and we mounted them on the wall. 

And here's where the community part of the mosaic got fun. We started grabbing people as they walked by and asking them if they wanted to hang one of the leaves. Of course they did! They had a chance to help create a permanent piece of art in our school. Before we knew it, the word was out and we had a line of people waiting to hang a leaf. It was so fun to see everyone participating in the process. As classes walked by, we'd hear things like, "Whoa! That's awesome!" or "You're doing a great job!" I had so much fun I ended up staying two hours longer than I was supposed to. I couldn't pull myself away. 

Here's the man of honor, Principal Ryan, hanging a leaf.



The tree after mounting all of the pieces. 


 Jim Bowen, Joanne Smith, and Jay Ryan.
All photos courtesy of Joanne Smith
I'm looking forward to seeing the final product- it wasn't grouted before school ended.  I'll be sure to take a photo and add it later.

This project brought together our entire school community to create something lasting and beautiful. Cultural enrichment indeed!

(For those wondering how this was funded... the PTO Cultural Committee covered the costs. Our school is fortunate to have very supportive parents and community members).

How might you bring a little cultural enrichment to your schools?

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