Two years ago, the seed idea of creating a school-wide mosaic to adorn the main entrance vestibule of Franklin Elementary School gained momentum. A motivated team of individuals comprised of parents, the PTO, Principal Dalia Mirrione, and staff invested collaborative efforts towards finding the best artist to lead an unforgettable artist-in-residence experience and raising the funding for a project of this magnitude.
By the spring of 2017, the FES PTO and parent Amalia Gomez raised the money needed, and Summit Educational Foundation provided funding for materials. After an exhaustive search, professional artist Joshua Winer was commissioned to lead the charge. His career as a professional artist, combined with extensive experience working with schools and mosaics, made him a perfect choice for this project. Most importantly, Winer shared the same inclusive vision as the FES team--that every single student's hands would be involved in creating the artwork.
FES's kick-off assembly that spring provided an exciting sneak preview of what the Fall 2017 artist-in-residence experience would entail. Winer led students through a visual presentation that explained the mosaic-making project from the inception of ideas through the mosaic creation and final installation. He also set up a series of hands-on stations that allowed students to engage with the materials and experience aspects of the project to come, such as comparing the various types of tiles that would be used, seeing images with tiles overlaid as mosaic portions, and tools that he would use throughout the process.
In preparation for his visit, all students were asked to generate pictures, images, words, and/or phrases to represent what FES means to them. Winer then left with hundreds of ideas from FES students, and began combing through all of their submissions to note what themes resonated the most. These served as the inspiration for the unique mosaic design. In fact, Winer interwove students' drawings, words, and phrases directly into the final composite.
The design is a display of three ships sailing over waves on the open seas. The "ships" are aptly named Citizenship, Leadership, and Scholarship to represent Franklin's core mission to cultivate these qualities within every student. The water they sail upon represents the values of the school. "The images are a tapestry of our students' feelings about what Franklin means to them... a truly organic expression. I love that our mosaic is authentically homegrown, and speaks to not only the students who shared what the school means to them, but communicates our shared values to future students," said Principal Mirrione.
Returning in October 2017, Winer spent two weeks working with students during their art classes, along with FES art teachers, Jaimie Bass and Roberto Mendez, and many parent volunteers. A family night welcomed parents to join in the mosaic-making, as well as a staff meeting for all faculty members to participate. Former FES 5th graders from last year were invited, and more than half eagerly returned to contribute to the mosaic.
Special thanks to resident artist Joshua Winer, Principal Dalia Mirrione, Amalia Gomez, the Franklin PTO, and the Summit Educational Foundation, as well as to the Grand Summit Hotel who provided accommodations for Mr. Winer.
Principal Mirrione added, "Franklin's mosaic-making has provided students with a rich, immersive opportunity to not only learn about mosaics as an artform, but to participate in a communal hands-on creation of a unique piece that will be displayed for guests for years to come. We tend to think about a 'learning' experience as traditionally academic, but arts education plays an important role in developing culturally literate, truly educated and well-rounded young people. I am sure that every student will always remember this experience and see the creation of art from a much more appreciative lens."