|2012 Art Show|
THE STORY OF THE MOSAIC MURAL
Last year at this time, we had secured an Artists in Education Residency grant to construct a mosaic mural in this space, but we had not yet settled on a theme. We knew that we wanted to continue to address the idea of unity within our combined middle/high school, but we had made no decisions beyond that.
Ms. Nicole Warchol, one of our middle school language arts teachers, told us of a group of eighth graders who had approached her after attending an anti-bullying assembly presented by the father of a boy who had committed suicide as a direct result of being bullied.
The students wanted to create some kind of visual tribute to this boy, and to others who felt the same sort of loneliness and isolation that he had experienced. Ms. Warchol immediately thought of us and our next mural project.
After brainstorming with the students, we decided on the quote by Jessica Lange, "Acceptance, Tolerance, Forgiveness....These Are Life-Altering Lessons" as the theme for our mural.
The images within the mural reflect the power of those words. To make them even more meaningful, we worked with the Middle School Teachers to help each of their students make a tile that is now a part of this wall. The teachers helped the students to write essays beginning with the words "I Believe", and the first sentence of each student's essay is imprinted on their tile.
Sentiments such as "I Believe That No One Should Feel Invisible" and "I Believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after", give a voice to our art work, and create a place of unity and acceptance. This fact led us to apply for a two year extension to our grant in order to continue to transform this space and the courtyard beyond it into a true haven of peace. We have now been awarded this extension by Artists in Education under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the arts.
The beginnings of next year's project can be seen through the windows onto the courtyard. The white form that is just taking shape will become a mosaic tree. It will include tiles made by our high school students and faculty. behind it, we will construct a wall that will be filled with artifacts donated by our community's senior citizens.
We hope that you will return to the art show next spring to follow our progress in creating a space which not only pays tribute to the importance of every individual, but that continues to unite us, both as a school and as a community.
David Brearley Middle/High School, NJ State Council on the Arts-Funded Mosaic Project
"Acceptance, Tolerance, Forgiveness...These Are Life Altering Lessons" is the quote by Jessica Lange that was chosen as the theme of the latest mural project to be done by the students at David Brearley Middle/High School. Inspired by an anti-bullying assembly, a group of middle school students asked their language arts teachers to help them create a visual anti-bullying statement. With the assistance of the art department, teachers and students are transforming a school hallway and courtyard into an inspirational environment that includes a mosaic wall, columns and an 11' mosaic tree sculpture, all filled with positive messages written by the students.
This is the second mosaic installation to be undertaken by the David Brearley Middle/High School Community. Last year, a 68' mural was constructed in an upstairs hallway in an effort to establish a stronger identity for the middle school which had recently lost its sports and extra-curricular activities due to budget cuts.
Throughout both of these projects, middle and high school students and teachers have worked together, which has established strong bonds between them. They have been guided by well-known Philadelphia mosaic artist Julie Deery whose involvement has been made possible through Artists In Education Residency Grants funded by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
David Brearley Middle/High School has been the recipient of five of these AIE Grants. All of them have been written by art teacher Janice Marsili and orchestrated with the help of fellow art teachers Cindy Perez and Stephanie Petrakos. High school science teacher Melissa Ferraris is the Acting Administrator for the grants, and financing of materials for the projects has been provided each year through sales of an art student-made product which is marketed and sold by the business students, under the guidance of business teacher Cheryl Kress.
Past AIE Residency Grants have included the publishing of a Kenilworth Community Cookbook illustrated with student etchings of the town's restaurants and food stores, a calendar/planner including pictures of key locations in town taken by the school's photography students, note card sets silk-screened with images of Kenilworth residences, as well as the more recent mosaic projects. Last year's undertaking was chosen to be a Best Practices Grant by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and photos of the mosaic mural are on the cover of the Artists in Education brochure, as well as in the flyer describing the organization's summer Artist/Teacher Institute.
The latest David Brearley Middle/High School mosaic installation was unveiled at the school's annual art show on May 10, 2012.