Vision to Reality: A Collaborative Mosaic
By Maria Falgoust & Eli Hetko
In 2019, ISB Head Librarian Maria Falgoust won the Association of Independent School Librarians’ Vision to Reality Award. The objective of the grant was to propose a project that would “bring visibility to your library, and help you make your vision a reality”. Maria’s goal was to create an opportunity for students and community members to collaborate and create an eye-catching mosaic celebrating literacy and enticing visitors to use the Learning Commons in the school’s lower level.
In mid-December 2019, Maria and Associate Librarian Eli Hetko announced a contest seeking design ideas for the mosaic. Students in 3rd through 8th Grade were invited to submit sketches showcasing their colorful, creative mosaic concepts. Dozens of enthusiastic participants took part and entered their design.
Students submitted dozens of sketches, including this imaginative composition.
A panel of judges consisting of Carolina (Art Teacher), Pat (Design Teacher), Kent (Parent and Library Committee Co-chair), Natalie (Assistant Head of School), Sylvie (Middle School student/Booklet member), and Maria evaluated the sketches for creativity of design, legibility, and feasibility as a mosaic.
The judges evaluated sketches entered into the mosaic design contest.
The pool of submissions was so strong that the judges decided to incorporate elements from four different images into a composite. The winners were announced during a Lower School assembly and awarded a gift certificate from Books Are Magic, a local, independent bookstore.
Beginning in late January, a rotating cast of student volunteers from 3rd-8th Grade, Carolina, Maria, and Kent met in the Art Room after school periodically. Each step in the mosaic-making process was carefully taught, demonstrated, and executed. In the first session, eager students mixed paints according to the color scheme of the design and subsequently painted the ceramic tiles. Next, Carolina brought the tiles to her personal art studio to glaze and fire the tiles in her kiln. The following week, the vibrant tiles were smashed into smaller, asymmetrical pieces: this was an exhilarating part of the process for most of the students who were decked out with safety goggles courtesy of our science department! During the following sessions, the pieces were sorted by color, then divided into sections to create a large-scale rendering of the design. It was similar to a puzzle – a fun challenge!
The pandemic put a wrench in the final plans, but Kent and Maria were determined to see the project through and have it installed by the first day of school. To complete the mosaic, Kent skillfully grouted tiles inside a custom frame he built and then installed the mosaic in the nick of time before the first day of school.
The mosaic was a true community effort; students and librarians worked steadfastly throughout every stage of the process and had a lot of fun along the way. Kent Matricardi and Carolina Bermudez’s hard work, artistic expertise, and skill sets were fundamental to the success of the project.
When asked for their impressions about the mosaic before it was installed, students commented:
“I think the mosaic will be a really nice addition to the library, and it will make more people come in because it will be so beautiful and welcoming.” -Maelie
“It will make people think that the Learning Commons is a great place to go for reading and studying.” -Leana
“I enjoyed painting the tiles and putting together the mosaic.” -Emma
The gorgeous mosaic truly reflects the spirit of ISB and will bring joy to everyone who walks past it for many years to come!