Thomas Jefferson Elementary Middle 4th, 5th and 6th graders all worked together with their art teacher Sara Levi and teaching artist Amanda Pellerin to create a stunning new mosaic wall that is now displayed in the school’s outdoor classroom. The school was one of the recipients for this year’s Public Art Grant for Baltimore City Schools which aims to bring schools, artists, and communities together to create some type of permanently installed work of art. Students came together to reflect their school community just as each colorful piece of glass and tile came together to create a beautiful neighborhood scene.

Art teacher, Sara Levi, described how the project was intended to bring the school community together:

“The overarching concepts for our public art project involve bringing the community together through the mosaic process. The art of mosaic making is all about collecting and organizing an array of different pieces (that originally might have been discarded) and create beauty from the broken. It is a very physical and hands-on experience that requires everyone to help contribute. Focusing on this type of work is very apropos as we, at our school and the surrounding community, are rebuilding, renovating and rethinking what education is in the face of this pandemic.”

Students who were learning about the American Revolution in their classes began to research and reflect on their own surroundings and began identifying symbols that represented them and their neighborhood. These symbols were then used as the inspiration for each of the mosaic panels. In the mural, you will find a blue crab, a sail boat, the facade of the school, a ferris wheel, and neighborhood shops.

Teaching artist Amanda Pellerin introduced students to the mosaic process and shared insight into how the tools like nippers cut tile and how wet saws use water to reduce heat caused by friction. Each student experimented with different shapes and sizes of glass and tile to fit within their templates.

The mosaic was unveiled to the school on June 3rd as part of a full day of fun where each grade took turns touching the mural, asking questions from the students like, “How long did it take to make?” and “What is it made out of?”. Everyone was then invited ti dance in celebration around the mural and talk to Mrs. Levi and Amanda Pellerin. Students can now have a sense of pride and ownership over the new mural that will be enjoyed for years to come!

We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this mural and all of this year’s Public Art Grant projects possible. Thank you to M&T Bank, Maryland State Arts Council, and the Creative Baltimore Fund.