Phoenix Rising

Submitted by Marc Archambault

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Client: NorfolkArts

Location: Norfolk, VA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $30,000

Project Team

Artist

Marc Archambault

Hammerhead Stoneworks, Inc.

Project Manager

Karen Rudd

NorfolkArts

Structural Engineer

Andrew Terrell

Lysaght & Associates

Mosaic Artist/Installer

Fred Lashley

Hammerhead Stoneworks

Mosaic Artist/Installer

Jonathan Frederick

Hammerhead Stoneworks

Technical Support

Daniel Thompson

Blackstone Masonry

Overview

This large stone mosaic brightens the main hallway of Richard Bowling Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. Commissioned by NorfolkArts, the piece is 9′ 9″ tall and 17′ 6″ across. It depicts two students creating artwork together. It is meant to inspire the students to be creative and to see the great potential that the arts offer them in school and in life. I used marble, travertine, granite, onyx, and other natural stones to create this enduring piece of public art.
The mosaic was recognized by the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) during their 2019 juried exhibit Mosaic Arts International in the Architectural and Site-Specific category.
The portfolio images were taken by Dave Chance.

Goals

After meeting students in their art classes, and observing their 'life drawing' lessons, I wanted to show art as a fundamental part of life, not something esoteric and ‘over there.’ Drawing is not reserved for famous artists and faraway gallery shows. Engineers & architects draw, cartoonists & advertisers draw, scientists & naturalists draw, city planners & art teachers draw.
I wanted my mosaic to speak to the idea of the students making things. Not just drawing life that they see, but drawing the life they want for themselves. I wanted the kids of the Norfolk schools to recognize themselves in the artwork. I hope they will see themselves and see value and possibility in creating art and making things.
I wanted to show kids building our future.

Process

This mosaic was inspired by a visit I made the Richard Bowling Elementary School art class. The students showed me their sketchbooks and we talked about their lessons on 'Life Drawing.'
I drew up several sketches before submitting the idea I felt strongest on. I presented the idea to the arts commission which included members from the school.
Once approved I engaged an engineering firm to make sure that the technical end of things was taken care of.
I fabricated the mosaic in my Asheville, North Carolina shop with my crew of collaborators. They traveled with me to Norfolk to install the finished piece.