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Ceramic mural.

By combining individual artistic abilities with cooperative teamwork, McLane High School art students successfully completed a three-dimensional ceramic mural now on permanent display in the school library. Each ceramic tile is a fascinating tribute to Mother Earth, ranging from students and rainbows to polluted rivers and smoky factories.

After obtaining two community grants to cover the cost for the paints and mounting, the project began. The only design guideline I gave the students was that the tiles were to represent their feelings toward the earth, whether they be positive or negative.

Before beginning their sculptures, the students watched films and demonstrations on various ceramic techniques. They also participated in discussions about local ceramics artists and murals. Students then sketched their designs on paper and used colored pencils to build color schemes.

The students used 7" x 9" (18 cm x 23 cm) slabs of ceramic clay for their sculptures. They placed clay tiles inside a shallow wooden box to maintain the straight edges. The students used various clay tools and texturizing techniques to build their sculptures.

After the designs were finished, I fired the tiles in the school kiln. The students then painted their sculptures with nonfired acrylic paints. I chose acrylic paints because the color in the jar stays the same color on the clay, making color application easier for the students, and the tiles don't need a second firing, as they would if we had worked with glazes.

The mural was installed in the school library by a local tile-setter and measures approximately 150 square feet. The students are very proud of their accomplishment and often point out their own tiles to fellow students and visitors.

I'm very pleased with the artistic results these students achieved, both in creating their own tributes and in working together to complete the mural. From theory to finished mural, the project took four years to complete. I am proud of all my students for their wonderful creativity, hard-earned achievement and cooperative teamwork. This project has been so successful, I've already begun plans for a second mural to hang on the administrative office wall, at the special request of the principal!

Bart B. Reed is an art teacher at McLane High School, Fresno, California
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Author:Reed, Bart B.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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