In September 2013, armed with an Arts Learning Grant from the Salt Lake City Arts Council and a 1300-lb donation of cement from Quikrete, I began collaborating with various youth organizations around the city to create large-scale mosaic installations in many of the city’s community gardens.
YouthCity Central City and McGillis School created a 20-foot-long pebble mosaic pathway in theMcGillis School Garden. Jackson Elementary created a 2x2x5 foot day-of-the-dead mosaic bench for the Social Justice Gardens at Jackson. ArtFirst/ArtePrimero created a day-of-the-dead mosaic bench for the Emerson Elementary garden. Finally, a 5-foot-tall mosaic bee was created with the Downtown Alliance Arts and Crafts Market for the Utah Arts Alliance Community Art Garden.
The designs for the various projects were created by the youth, with me as facilitator. Each project had a theme. For example, the mosaic art bench at the Social Justice Gardens of Jackson Elementary was created in memory of athlete and community activist Matt Bradley who suffered a tragically early death a few years ago, but left a wide-reaching legacy including the creation of the Social Justice Gardens. The youth created mosaic images representing the legacy of this community hero in the style of Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.
To create the mosaics, the youth worked with the artist to break colorful porcelain tiles and glued the pieces, tracing an enlarged version of their sketches .
To celebrate the accomplishments of the project, I hosted a “Bicycle Tour to Celebrate and Serve Local Gardens”, leading participants to the four gardens to see the artwork and do a bit of service.
Funding for SLC Art Gardening was provided by a Salt Lake City Arts Council Arts Learning Grant with supplemental support by Quikrete, McGillis School, Wasatch Community Gardens, Zions Bank, YouthCity Central City, Guadalupe School, Jackson Elementary School, Artists for Local Agriculture, ArtFirst/ArtePrimero and Sorenson Unity Center.