By Casey Hans
A wall of color adorns the front hall at Allen Elementary School thanks to the artistic endeavors of every child in the school.
Flowers, fish, snails, trees and other gifts of nature are depicted in the all-school project, which has 396 tiles in all and was unveiled during the last week of school.
The tile mural was the idea of parents Amy and Brodie Burris and Lanette and Keoki Williams, who worked with art teacher Debra Campbell to plan and create the masterpiece. The work will be tied into the school’s 50th anniversary celebration in the fall as a special project, said Principal Joan Fitzgibbon.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Fitzgibbon said. “The important thing is showcasing the student talent and the fact that every kid is represented up there.”
Students created artwork in Campbell’s class on 8” x 8” squares. The drawings were then sent to Square 1 Art, an art fundraising company that creates the tiles and also can put student artwork on mugs, T-shirts and other items that are sold to parents, with a portion of proceeds coming back to the school.
The Allen Parent Council paid for every child’s artwork to be made into a tile and the additional fundraising sales helped to defray the cost of the tile mural, which cost about $3,800 total.
A contractor was hired to put up a board and frame and the four parents laid out the tiles, installed them and grouted them to a beautiful finish; they also painted the background wall red to make the tile mural pop, Fitzgibbon said. Having the tile on the board will allow the artwork to be moved should there ever be renovation in that portion of the school, she added.
Williams, who has children in the fifth and third grades at Allen, said it has been fun to see the students stop at the wall and find their own tiles. “The thing I’m most proud of is every child is represented,” she said. “That was the reason we funded it.”
Kindergarteners did sunflowers, first graders fish or snails, second graders butterflies, third graders flowers, fourth graders winter trees and fifth-graders branching patterns. “We just drew inspiration from different things,” Campbell said. “Kids naturally enjoy nature so that’s a hook.”
Allen student Eric said he enjoyed the trees-in-the-winter theme. “I enjoyed doing mine,” he said. Classmate Cloe, said she gained inspiration from looking at photo. “I like how everyone’s turned out really different,” she said.
Kiele, another young artist, said she “liked the idea of the branching pattern and the different ideas you could do off of it.” And student Cam said his favorite part of the project, was the ability to use bright colors individually to create the large, finished project.
Included in the Allen display are tiles in memory of Fitzgibbon’s father and also of Robert Kooistra, the grandfather of an Allen student, who had volunteered numerous hours at the school as an unofficial gardener, beautifying the school grounds. He passed away in January.