The Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce, Chaired by Isabel Munoz, recently presented the David Brearley High School (DBHS) Fine and Performing Arts Department with a $1,500 grant to be used in the department’s ongoing Mosaic Courtyard Installation. The initial portion of the installation, which was unveiled in early May, includes a 14-foot mosaic tree sculpture, a three-tiered mosaic bench with towers containing cultural artifacts and two mosaic table sets. The installation is part of the department’s “Art Beyond The Brearley Classroom” initiative.
According to the lead teacher for the project, art teacher Janice Marsili, DBHS’s Printmaking and Ceramics students interviewed senior members of their families, and then using their words and images, created ceramic tiles to represent their loved ones’ life stories. These tiles were mosaicked onto the tiered bench which also supports three abstract towers containing common items donated by local senior citizens.
Students in the Advanced Art Open Studio class continued the theme of the bench and towers by creating a spiral design that was mosaicked onto two concrete table tops. The student-written statements, “For Those Who Came Before Us…Their Memories Tell the Story of Our Lives,” and “Without Them There Would Be No Us” were imbedded in the design.
The work was initially made possible through a New Jersey State Council on the Arts AIE Grant, administered by Arts Horizons, and secured by Mrs. Marsili. This grant supplied the school with Artist-In-Residence, Kit Sailer, a well-known painter and skilled carpenter. Ms. Sailer assisted three art classes at David Brearley to design and implement their concepts.
The focal point of the courtyard installation is the most distinctive tree sculpture. It was created from pink insulation foam wire lathe, Thinset and insulating foam sealant, and it is mosaicked with tiles made by students that address the subject of diversity. The tree complements the mosaic mural that spans over 40 feet of the hallway adjacent to the courtyard. The mural’s theme of Acceptance, Tolerance and Forgiveness, and the images used to express it, earned Marsili the 2013 Educator of the Year award from the local district of the Freemasons.
The grant money from the Kenilworth Chamber will be used in part to add a koi pond in the corner of the courtyard. Science teachers Dale Sona and Curt Cerillo will work with the art department to select plants and fish that will thrive there, and middle school language arts teacher Nicole Warchol will help students to compose “reflection” writings that will be part of the mosaic decoration of the pond.