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Public Art Project in the Urban Canyon

March 29, 2012

Two months of brainstorming and planning are behind us and we’ve finally started working on our public art project: a found object mosaic mural in the Urban Canyon at Brent Elementary.  My team of 11 ambitious second and third graders has taken on the huge project of designing and constructing a 9×5 foot masterpiece that will celebrate the unique and diverse ecosystem of the Chesapeake bay.  As a public art class, we were tasked with creating a mural that would speak a message of environmental stewardship.  The first, and most important step of our process would be to hold a recycled object drive to gather materials –  broken dishes, abandoned game pieces, sturdy plastic toys, small pieces of scrap metal, and various other weather resistant found objects.  Processing the donations has been a lot of work – going through everything and pulling out the objects that are suitable for an outdoor mural, smashing the ceramic pieces into small sizes, and sorting by color.

The next step is to focus on the subjects of our mural – the plants and animals.  For the sake of precision, weather, and the space available to us – I’ve decided to mosaic on to smaller sections of fiberglass mesh which we will eventually attach to cement board with mortar. The Mosaiced, grouted, and sealed cement board will then be attached with Liquid Nails to a frame built into the Urban Canyon wall by a handy dad of one of the artists! The pictures below show the beginnings of assembling the plants and animals with found objects and gluing them to the mesh with Weldbond adhesive.  This industrial glue is water soluble – so it’s important to just dab a little onto the tiles so when we press the mesh into the mortar, the mortar will squeeze up through the holes in the mesh and bond to the tiles.

Once we have all of our plants and animals glued on the mesh – we will start working on the background and the mural will start coming together.
…thats the plan at least!

Stay tuned for the next progress update – so far this has been a challenging project for such little hands, but by the looks of things I think it is going to be an amazing finished product.

Alayna Rasile
CHAW Youth Arts Program Teaching Artist

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