(Recycled porcelain tile, bicycle parts / 9' x 15.5' x 1') The mural on the building facade publicly identifies New Roads Elementary School while playing off its name. The school’s mission and curricular focus on social justice and environmental sustainability is reinforced through use of recycled porcelain tiles and discarded children’s vehicles donated by the school’s families.
Unique to public art, especially those considered ‘permanent’, is the need for the artwork to adapt in order to remain relevant. In 2017, New Roads School decided to abandon its satellite Elementary school building, whose exterior displayed my 2011 commission “New Roads” (featured in CODAmagazine’s “Transformative Walls II”) to relocate the program at their Middle and High School campus location.
The campus consolidation led many in the school community to feel anxiety about the school’s future. Fortunately, they expressed early in the process that it would be essential to relocate the artwork. After much consideration between myself and the school administration, a suitable location was chosen, above the entrance to the new Elementary school. Text from the school’s mission statement would be reinstalled on the building exterior at the parents’ car pool drop-off.
I was pleased to work with the original metal fabricator to spruce up and reattach the metal bicycle parts. He even secretly added flat pieces to the wheels which in a strong wind might turn them, since they were now too high for the children to spin. My long-time tile installer was also able to source and install the same recycled porcelain tile.
Families arriving for the first day of the fall semester were welcomed with the reinstalled artwork. Its new location is considerably more prominent within the campus and for neighborhood passerby. The Head of School, Luthern Williams, acknowledged that the artwork embodies the spirit of this unique school and saw its relocation as crucial to easing the community’s transition to its evolving future.
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CODA: Collaboration of Design + Art
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