When Joanne Smith heard that Jay Ryan, the Principal of Rochester Memorial School was to retire she felt that she had to pay tribute in a big way. She had taken a mosaic workshop from Cape Cod Mosaic Workshops the previous Fall and during the class, she decided that he should have a mosaic mural placed in his honor at the elementary school.
Joanne researchd various ideas and came apon of mosic "Tree of Learning" and decided to produce such a project with her talented students.
Jim Bowen of Cape Cod Mosaic Workshops was asked to participate as the "artist in residence" during the month of May and the process began.
Students where given a fun power point presentation by Bowen, explaing a brief history of mosaics. He also showed the many objects that mosaics could be made of- from tiles and glass to jelly beans and even Cheeto's! Students were shown the tools used in this ancient art form and learned how to nip the tiles. His main focus however was community mosaic murals. He explained that like a community is composed of many people of all shapes, sizes and colors, so is a mosaic made of many pieces of all shapes, sizes and colors. Demonstrating community mosaic projects from around the world such as the country of Haiti, he explained that public art projects such as a mosaic mural can use the broken pieces of china and tile from an earthquake and be put together by members of a community to create something beautiful as a means to "heal" the community after a devasting event such as a natural disaster.
Mrs. Smith gave each student s snack sized baggie with a note explaining that the kids should bring a personal object to school in the bag which had some significance to them. Students were asked to write a short note explaining their choice. The object would then be used in a mosaic leaf that each student would create with a parent on the annual Art Night.
Dozens of parents and kids showed up to participate as Bowen and his wife Debbie guided them. The results were over a hundred leaves and a sturdy tree trunk which was permanantly attached to the main entrance wall at the school.
Kudos to Joanne Smith for organizing this vast tribute and to all the chidren for participating. Also, a special thank you to parent assistants Ilana and Michelle who helped Jim put the tree together and thin set it to the wall.
On a personal note, I want to mention how impressed I was with the students. I was able to teach over 600 students during the two days that I worked with them. They listened with apt attention and behaved perfectly. It was so refreshing to see how they responded to Mrs. Smith with politeness and disipline, a testament to her remarkable teaching skills.
PS Here is a link to Michelle's blog that she wrote about his project. please enjoy.