Yes, it is truly huge: 12 feet wide and over 7 feet high! The Medford Schools facilities staff installed it on Monday, and I then added the tiles and grout around all the edges in time for the public unveiling at Art Night on Thursday, May 26th. Everything went off without a hitch! See more photos here.
What a privilege it has been to be part of this community for a few weeks. I especially want to thank all these amazing people:
1. Kathleen Shanley, the Roberts School Art Teacher, who has astonishingly great organizational skills and patience. I never could have gotten through this experience without her. Also I'm amazed and grateful that she was willing to turn over her classroom and all her students to this project for two full weeks, at the most crazy time of the year.
2. Cheryl Rodriguez, parent of a Roberts School student and the coordinating wizard behind the mosaic curtain. In addition to coming up with the idea of an "artist in residence" to begin with and helping to write a grant proposal that got funded, she found volunteers to help out with almost every class (and there were 52 of them, folks!), brought me donations of supplies and coffee (at times the most important element), cheerfully reminded me of everything I forgot, and was always tremendously fun to work with,
3. Kirk Johnson, principal of the Roberts School, who applied to the Massachusetts Cultural Council's STARS Grant to fund the project, donated a very prominent wall for the mosaic, and then left us alone to get it done. (That last bit must have involved some amazing self-control! I don't think I could have managed it.)
4. Diane Daley of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's STARS Grant, who supported the project throughout, coming both to a class while we were making the mosaic and coming back again on Art Night. Mass Cultural Council dows great, important work that no other entity in our state does, so please support them as much as they support us! Also many thanks to the Medford Arts Council and the Medford School Committee for their wonderful support!
5. Mea Mustone and her crew of young helpers. She knows what she did!
6. The many parents who volunteered their time to help, especially Jessica Sciullo.
7. The custodial staff of the Roberts School and the Medford School System. A nicer, more helpful crew cannot be found anywhere.
8. Everyone else I encountered at the Roberts School. What a truly great group.
9. And leaving perhaps the best for last--the almost 600 students, ages 5 through 11ish, who made this very cool mural come to life. You're the best!
Last Friday at 2:10 pm, several third-graders wiped off the final bit of grout they had rubbed on, and the mosaic they had been making for ten days was officially complete. This week it will be installed on the wall in the second-floor main hall, and on Thursday night, May 26th, the school community will see it for the first time at Art Night.
The unveiling ceremony will begin shortly after 6:00 pm, with brief comments by Roberts' Principal Kirk Johnson, Art Teacher Extraordinaire Kate Shanley, Roberts School parent and project coordinator Cheryl Rodriguez, STARS Grant Program Manager Diane Daily (the project's largest funder), and Artist in Residence Susan Altman (me).
Art Night is fun for many reasons: there are lots of activities that little kids enjoy (making stuff out of random recycled materials, for one), an art gallery featuring a work of art made by EVERY SINGLE kid in the school (that's almost 600 pieces of art, folks!), and this year--only this year--seeing the entire "Many Cultures of the Roberts School" mosaic for the first time. We will also have a video of the process of creating the mosaic running on continuous loop.
This week's event will be the third annual Art Night. I hope to see you!
Time: Starts at 6 pm
Mosaic unveiling: 6:15 (approximate time)
Location: 35 Court Street, Medford (just off Salem Street, a few blocks from the Route 93 rotary)
Parking: Free street parking, but there will be lots of visitors so you may have to walk a few blocks.
Susan Altman: Mosaicist, Community Artist, Writer/Editor