The Mural was first envisioned in the fall of 2015, with the High School Advanced Art students of Ellsworth Community Schools in Ellsworth, WI leading the brainstorming and design process. The Mural has truly been a collaborative project, spanning a range of ages and programs, including: the 2017 Ellsworth Elementary fifth-grade class, Middle School, High School, and Summer School classes, and service-learning and Capstone projects. Over the course of the past four years, upwards of 300 students and staff have worked on the mural.
The project was, at its core, a learning process that developed the student’s creative and critical thinking skills. The journey of creating the mural was one of trial and error — students learned how to balance the joyful process of creating with the persistence needed to solve problems and ultimately finish the project.
Designing the mural was student led from the outset, starting with deliberations on a design that would not only reflect the area of placement (the pool wall) but also interest viewers. After several brainstorm sessions and multiple sketches, the students presented a final layout that best represented and combined the numerous ideas generated.
Personal vision is reflected in the individual tiles, but collaboration was necessary for the overall layout and composition to flow technically and aesthetically. Students needed to understand how the texture, clay thickness, pattern, image, and color of their personal pieces would fit into the whole. When grappling with this design issue, the students became familiar with the techniques needed for working with clay and had to consider a host of other technical issues, including drying time, shrinkage, cracking and sound construction.
The need to work and compromise with others was present in all design and construction elements of the project. In order to encourage unity, students learned how to incorporate design elements into their work. Students also engaged in individual and group critical discussions — these periods of analysis and reflection were instrumental to the project’s success.
The inspiration for the foliage was taken from artist Henri Rousseau’s jungle compositions. Vincent Van Gogh’s sky compositions influenced the billowing clouds and movement in the mural’s sky. The pond creatures were a product of the students’ imaginations.
Many local vendors and suppliers contributed their expertise on supplies, process and installation. Cone 6 MB stoneware, from Minnesota clay, was used for the clay body. Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes at cone 6 were used on the tiles. Mosaic art supply helped with installation by providing recommendations for the process and materials.
The Mural is located on the south wall of the entrance of the Klaus-Jonas Pool in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. This placement protects the mural from nature’s elements so that the community can enjoy the mural for years to come.
This mural was created using Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes at cone 6.