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Project Description: 

- Artist:  Carolyn Elaine

- Sponsorship:  Julie Reynolds Shaw Artist Award & Art Resources In Teaching

-  60 sq ft. Clay Relief Mosaic Mural- Interior Installation 


Beneath the surface of our humanness we each possess unique, diverse and distinctive abilities.

Those who dare to explore discover a creative empowerment that goes far beyond what a mere person is capable of. 


The New Horizon Center for the Developmentally Disabled is a special school that serves the needs of handicapped children and adults with multiple disabilities. The students at the Center have been rejected by their public school because of the lack of appropriate educational programs that will stimulate their growth and development in the least restrictive environment possible. Their Adult Program is an extension of the children’s program. Children who age out of the educational program still need to be in a learning environment while surrounded by their peers and engaged in meaningful activities.


In September of 07, after many long painstaking years of planning and discussions, the Center finally moved into a new facility. For many preceded years, the agency struggled to change the environment by taking down walls and altering the physical location with appropriate classrooms and therapy areas. Although the dream of their parents, staff and board of directors had become a reality, their limited construction budget did not permit the installation of a tactile artwork in the main entrance of the new school.


In 2008, Carolyn Elaine became the first recipient of the Julie Reynolds Shaw Artist Award. The 10,000.00 grant administered through Art Resources In Teaching allowed Elaine to make real her vision of working with the students of the New Horizon Center. Together with the help of staff, she involved the students in the creation of a mosaic and clay relief artwork that enabled them to experience art through their senses. Many of the children at New Horizon have mental disabilities and physical disabilities or a combination of both that seriously impede their normal development. As youngsters, few are able to walk, talk or feed themselves. For some being able to hold up their head is a major accomplishment. The main focus of Elaine’s project was to provide the participants with stimulation, socialization and interaction with their peers. Her desire was to install a finished artwork that was more than an optical phenomenon – but of physical, tactile substance as well.


Elaine worked on site with the students to guide them in creating individual textured pieces of clay. The children and staff were encouraged to look, touch and explore; thereby stimulating the integration of body, mind and spirit. These clay relief pieces were glazed, fired and later incorporated into the design of the finished artwork and fabricated in her studio. The finished artwork has transformed the environment with colorful textured images that hold personal meaning for those who actively participated in the creative process.

Beneath the Surface (2008)

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