Monday, June 11, 2012

Smile & Art - A Good Combination

The smiles say it all - a creative work of art that was fun in the making. Local artist and teacher Mary Mann and her students are contributing once again to the neighborhood. After completing the new mural on the Antique Sandwich Company wall last year via a grant from the West End Neighborhood Council, the team has just completed a tile mural for the wall across the street on the newly remodeled Ruston Apartments building. The project is funded this time by Ruston Parks and Arts, run by Ginger Kyrger and Lucy Davis. The funding comes from the sale of the artist-painted Adirondack chairs two years ago and is run thru the business district-wide Tacoma Neighborhoods Together so the donations would be tax deductible.

Mann and her SAMI students began work on the mural last fall after Kryger approached her wanting to find ways to get more art in Ruston. Kyrger donated the use of her kiln and the Application & Adventures class started work. The first day was spent walking around Ruston looking for the perfect wall - which was waiting for them at the corner of N. 51st and Pearl.

The class decided on an underwater theme given the location here surrounded by Puget Sound. The focus is on native species that are common to Point Defiance (thus the application of science lessons). After a visit to Claudia Riedener, an accomplished ceramic artist, the study of working with clay, ceramics, glazing, coloring and other technology took off. Spring semester, half the class changed and the final work on the tiles was completed.

Each student chose an animal, with some creative spacing for the larger species like the seal. Mann reviewed and approved the choices and the team found a cohesive way to piece the design together. The class only met 10 times each semester, so creating 96 tiles was a challenge. Mann describes their process; "The clay had to be rolled with a slab roller three days ahead of carving day, so that it would reach the "leather hard stage".  Fresh clay is too soft and pliable to be able to hold the shapes. We borrowed the slab roller from Ginger. Many students stayed after school with me to help with the preparations each week. It took two sessions to apply the colorful underglazes on the bisque ware. Students had to be deliberate about which background colors were applied to the water areas because we were trying to achieve a distinct transition from light to dark, which simulates the underwater point of view."
The end result is a beautiful work of art scheduled to be installed this summer. Great work by lots of great people.

Tile Artists
Deon Anderson          Carlmisha Jives
Sarah Becker              Maya Kalsta-Watkins
Angie Carrillo            Abby Linder
Daisy Cruz                  Acacia McCord
Daniel Damian          Grace McKenney
Rachel Duke              Lindsey Norden
Eris Egan                   Taylor Palacio
Bailey Furuyama     Jessica Reynolds
Justice Greer             Tesh Smith
Haley Groseclose       Matilyn Stargel
Bryan Gutierrez        Kilee Vega
Andre Harrell            Tatyanna Wrinkle
Precious Hunkin       Mary Mann, Instructor

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