Talking Trees

Submitted by Eileen Gay

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Client: Municipality of Anchorage Percent For Art Program

Location: Anchorage, AK, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team

Artist

Eileen Gay

Curator of Public Art

Enzina Marrari

Anchorage

Structural Engineer

Nelson Franklin

Franklin & Assoc.

Overview

A concrete sculptural mosaic on forms of trees and logs with mosaics representing Time, Weather, and Nature surrounding a central drum form featuring mosaic of Alaska’s State Flower the Forget-Me-Not, are sited in a circle to create a gathering place for talking, listening, sharing, and learning.

HONORS – JUROR’S CHOICE AWARD, Mosaic Arts International 2019: Society of American Mosaic Artists – The Parthenon Musuem, Nashville Public Library Art Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee

Goals

A 1/3 mile community trail meandering through the back portion of the playground at the school and is used by students during Physical Education and the local community. Interest in activating the area around the path using a theme of weather, nature, and time gave me the idea of creating a series of sculptural mosaics to offer an outdoor gathering space next to the trail where both the school and the community could share stories, lessons, and even music.

The resulting teaching circle is formed using standing forms representing tree trunks, with matching seating logs and a central presentation drum at the center. To signify the theme requested, all the tree trunk forms have imagery representing the three elements of time, weather, and nature. Included in the tesserae within the mosaics are inspirational, engraved word stones, some with the school slogan “Dream Big!” engraved. The central presentation ‘drum’ has mosaic of the Alaska State Flower, the Forget-Me-Not.

Process

Working with the Airport Heights Elementary school principal and the Public Art Specialist for Anchorage, I was able to take my original concept higher to choose and successfully integrate my design idea at the site.

Additional Information

Using materials such as high fire porcelain and glass that can weather a freeze-thaw climate while retaining their brilliant color makes a concrete sculptural mosaic an ideal art form and medium for this type of harsh, outdoor site. The materials should retain their brilliant colors for years to come.