We finished grouting on September 11th. Using masonry stain, in our grout, added dramatically to the overall look of the work. I was pleased that our last day of work on the project was the 15 year anniversary of Sept. 11th, 2001, because creating art together is a powerfully positive statement of values, and a testament to the ability of communities to define themselves, and create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped bring this project to reality! And thank you to the Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for funding it! And thank you for the many local donations of materials and food that propelled us forward!
Please join the Van Etten Elementary School community to celebrate the completion and installation of these two mosaic benches depicting the life cycle of plants. They were made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts, administered locally by the ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes. We will hold a dedication ceremony Monday October 17th from 5:50 to 6pm at the playground to recognize the creative success of student and community artists, and Van Etten teachers and staff.
Glazed ceramic tile, fresh out of the kiln at Zwackart studios. Latest installment of work on public art mosaic mural to be installed in Ithaca, NY in Spring of 2012.
This is the second year in a row that I have had the privilege of working with students at the Elmira Alternative High School on an arts in education project where they read a book and use it as a point of departure for their own poetry and visual art. This year the book they have been reading is the intense true story of Kevin Davis called Zebratown. It is written by Greg Donaldson and set mostly in Elmira, New York. Elmira is home to a maximum security prison that houses inmates from all over New York state. From the prison, Kevin Davis looks down on the town of Elmira and thinks it looks peaceful and imagines living there in freedom one day. Eventually he does. Zebratown focuses on a part of his life where he moves in with a white single mom and their struggle to make their lives and relationship work.
The book was hugely engaging and I read it in three days. But when I finished, I felt thoroughly depressed. I sat down and started making notes about the values of the main characters in the story, making thumbnail sketches to represent these values and try to make sense of this work of tragedy. I was thinking about representing a person by showing the layers of experience, the goals, dreams and values, as well as an image of their physical presence; a personal palimpsest. When I met with students on the first day, I asked them to make some simple sketches of their values and I gave a lesson in drawing faces using charcoal. Later we would combine these images using paint on canvas.
This year I won a Crossroads grant to create a tile mosaic and work with Robert Salvato, a skilled wood working artist to create a bench for a public park in Erin, NY. Below are some images from my process of making it. It is now complete and about to be installed. The Town of Erin has scheduled an unveiling to take place October 29th at 1pm in the new park, behind the fire station. Please come and enjoy the festivities if you are in the area. I am told there will be free hot-dogs.
This bench was made possible in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program, administered locally by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.
This past Wednesday, I met with four classes of third graders at Van Etten elementary school in Van Etten, New York. We talked about the fact that both scientists and artists need to use their skills of observation in their work. We used pencil, colored pencil, and crayons to draw plant specimen that the students had brought in from home. These will be the designs for the clay tiles that they will be sculpting next Wednesday.
This project was made possible in part through a Local Capacity Building Grant administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.