mosaic tiles, styrofoam, cement
outside Ephesus. view map
Local artist Jeannette Brossart led the Fall 2008 Artists@Work residency at Ephesus Road Elementary School in Chapel Hill, sponsored by the Public Arts Office of Chapel Hill. Brossart conducted an in-school residency with the Ephesus fourth-graders to create a collaborative piece of public artwork celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Chapel Hill Carrboro City School System. On the 100th day of the 2008-2009 school year students, parents, faculty and local media joined in the dedication of the public artwork, installed outdoors on the school grounds.
Three classes of fourth-grade students and a special needs class worked with Brossart to create a vertically stacked mosaic sculpture of the numbers one, zero and zero to form the number 100.
“The understanding of 100 is an important achievement for elementary students,” said locally based Brossart. “This sculpture is an important, identifiable, heartwarming and permanent expression of this fundamental concept – while also marking a significant anniversary date of the school system for the community.”
The students’ art teacher, Nara Strickland, worked with Brossart as the students created the sculpture last fall. The three lessons taught in each of the classes went beyond encouraging artistic creativity to involving skills such as math and teamwork.
“In the first lesson, each child made his or her own seven-inch scale model of the seven-foot totem,” she said, “which required them to draw on their math skills. The second lesson called for them to work in small groups to create a mosaic pattern using 100 pieces of reused glass, marble, ceramics, metals and pebbles.”
Brossart said this was one of the most interesting lessons, as she watched the groups delegate, compromise and cooperate in a span of 45 minutes to develop their own unique mosaics. The final designs ranged from geometric shapes to landscapes, such as a house by a river. During the third and final lesson, the students attached their mosaics to the “100” totem, which had been previously constructed by Brossart. In their final lesson, the students also learned the process of constructing the totem, similar to that of paper maché but using cement, mesh and foam materials more suitable for a permanent, outdoor sculpture.
“The kids really did a great job,” Brossart said, “and Nara was so enthusiastic and wonderful to work with. The idea of the tie in with 100 days and the Centennial really resonated with me from the start, and I think it was such a broad-reaching experience for the children – from the creativity, to seeing how math and art can connect, to working together. And they really created something beautiful in the process.”
The 100 mosaic totem sculpture is on permanent display in front of the school facing Ephesus Church Road: 1495 Ephesus Church Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517.