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Project Description: 

- Artist: Carolyn Elaine and Sonata Kazimieraitis

- Participants: 3rd - 8th grade students from Sol R. Crown School, Chicago IL

- Sponsorship: Chicago Public Art Group

- 240 sq ft. Broken Tile Mosaic with Sculpted Clay Relief Objects- Exterior Installation


The goal of this project, as stated by the Principal of the school, was to cover the existing pixilated image of a tree on the facade the building, with something more fitting for their new Literacy Garden. New sod and fencing was recently installed in front of the school and upon completion of the mural, decorative seating will be added. This newly created learning environment will serve as an outdoor alternative in nice weather.


Led by master artists Carolyn Elaine and Sonata Kazimieraitis (Chicago Public Art Group), a group of students at Sol R. Crown Elementary School, designed and fabricated a 240sq ft mosaic and clay relief mural along the exterior façade of the school, near its main entrance. It’s irregular, organic shape is composed of a large flower, a book and several colorful insects.


At the onset of the program, the students were unfamiliar with the medium of mosaic tile, the collaborative process and with one another. All of the students were selected by art teacher for having special artistic abilities. Their first assigned was to work with cut paper in order to gain a basic understanding how images can be composed in a mosaic composition. Next they were introduced to clay through a simple exercise that enabled them to create textured pieces which were later glazed and used for tree branches. The students soon graduated to sculpting and glazing leaves, flowers, insects and even the text that was included in the pages of the book.


Different images in this installation required specific media. The result is a combination of detailed broken tile mosaic juxtaposed with sculpted clay relief elements. Planting Seeds of Hope reveals the theme of a Literacy Garden through the image of an open book surrounded by representations of things normally found in a garden such as flowers, tree branches and various insects. Two of the school’s many mottos were used in the composition. These words are actually used as seeds: planted in the fertile minds of the students regularly. They are displayed throughout the interior of the school building and repeated daily by teachers and staff. The left page of the open book reads “Try, you must learn” along with an image of the earth and several planets, implying that there are endless opportunities to explore and discover new things. The right page of the open book reads “Literacy is the key to our success” and shows a young man in a graduation cap and gown, proudly displaying his diploma.


The bright colors of the mosaic are a nice contrast against the blue glazed tile wall. The design is well balanced in terms of scale, shape and color and the text is clearly recognizable from the distance (sidewalk). Up close the mural has a wonderful three dimensional aspect. Some of the images were purposely placed in reach of the children, inviting them to explore and experience the texture.




Planting Seeds of Hope (2007)

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