AlumniED Newsletter - Spring 2008 - Tile Wall Mural

Tile Wall Mural "HEALTH"
Inspired by Education Grad, Joy Tretick & Faculty Member, Heather Pastro 

Tile Wall Mural "HEALTH"   Inspired by Education Grad, Joy Tretick & Faculty Member, Heather Pastro

Joy is a great ceramics artist and decided that she wanted to do something really special for the school (she had done a smaller clay mural at Seaview school a few years ago), so she had a "brainwave" to construct a huge (40'x6') mural with 425 hand-made tiles created by each of the students for the interior of the school. Joy planned the entire project, from the size and scale, to the scheduling of parent helpers to roll out 8 inch slabs of clay, to the hours and hours of firings in the school kiln, to the exact colours of glazes to achieve the desired effect. Joy's friend, Denine MacIntosh, a local potter was a huge help as she works in ceramic sas a business and acted as a consultant and participated in every aspect of this project. It was decided by Joy that that the theme of the mural should be about the environment and the role of children in taking care of our world. As a result, the words : Humans, Earth, Animals, Living, Together, in Harmony were joined to spell "HEALTH".

Joy asked if I would help teach each of the classes with her. She designated a specific theme from the mural for each class and the children were able to choose what they wanted to draw within this parameter. The Kindergarteners and the Grade ones were to create the border and that in itself is a work of art: three -dimensional relief pattern of sea shells! Each student from Gr. 2-7 made a drawing on paper and then transferred that image by carving carefully into the clay tile. Over 2 weeks, we taught every class and all of the tiles were made. After the tiles were dried, they werfired, then glazes were applied by parent helpers and the tiles were fired again. Even some of the teachers created a tile!

Finally , Joy, Denine, and I came into the school on Sun. evening and we laid outevery single tile on the floor in the multi-purpose room tosee the mural in its first stage of completion. We were also preparing it for the parent helper that is atiler by trade, as he is going to do all the grouting! It was a wonderful experience, to see all of this work finally coming together. We had started this right after Spring Break and I am sure Joy has been working on some aspect of this project every single day since then! What was really rewarding was the opportunity to collaborate with the school and the children and the parents of this community, to create a "legacy" project that these children will be able to come back and visit in the years ahead. We talked to the children about the importance of public art and their role in this project, and they were all so proud and the community, teachers and parents, have been so supportive. It was also a rewarding experience, professionally, for me as an art educator to work with such an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher and a committed and professional potter. We all learned from each other and that experience was so fulfilling.

This article was also published in Visually Speaking" the journal of the British Columbia Art Teacher's Association.( Volume 20, Number 1)