I came across this article last night & thought it was worth sharing. This truly embraces the holiday spirit-extending hands across countries, cultures & economic differences. Building friendships through art. We really need more activities like this & to have this kind of news make the headlines now & throughout the year. Englewood, Florida is located about an hour south of St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay near Sarasota.

CORRESPONDENT PHOTOS / MATT HOUSTON
Mayan artist Luis Manuel May Ku of Merida, Mexico, draws the outline for a tile mosaic for students at Englewood Elementary School. Ku and the children are part of The Mosaic Project, which is being underwritten by The Golden Rule Foundation.

By STEVEN J. SMITH Correspondent

Published: Saturday, December 11, 2010 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Florida
ENGLEWOOD, FL – Every week, Englewood Elementary School art teacher Dawn Hinck and a group of students meet in the afternoon to create mosaics.

Students at Englewood Elementary School work on an 18-by-40-foot mosaic that will adorn the wall of the U.S. Consulate in the Yucatan Peninsula city of Merida, Mexico.

The students are doing more than simply honing their artistic abilities; the mosaic panels they worked on Thursday are planned for eventual display on the wall of the U.S. Consulate in Merida, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Fourth-grader Destiny Ashcraft, 9, scrubbed some stubborn tiles of a panel. “It’s a hard job,” she said, “but it’s very exciting.”

The students’ work is part of The Mosaic Project, which is building an artistic and diplomatic partnership between children in Florida and Mexico.

In attendance was Mayan artist and sculptor Luis Manuel May Ku of Merida, Mexico, who came to the school with Henry Vales, executive director of The Golden Rule Foundation, which is helping to underwrite the project.

The idea for The Mosaic Project emerged last May between Vales and Englewood Elementary School Principal Mark Grossenbacher, who linked it with The Golden Rule Foundation’s parent initiative called Changing the World One Community at a Time: A Celebration of Diversity-Embracing Differences in our Communities. Its aim is to provide learning opportunities for students in 12 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Florida and Mexico.

“What started as an 8-by-16-foot mosaic is now 18-by-40,” Grossenbacher said. “And Mr. Ku is here today to make sure that it is patch-worked like a quilt, so that it will represent the three things the U.S. embassy wants it to represent.”

Those three things, he added, include what it means to live along the Gulf Coast, how the Gulf of Mexico facilitates trade and commerce between the U.S. and Mexico, and the importance of the culture and values of the Yucatan.

Ku was overwhelmed by the facilities at the school, expressing his awe in Spanish to Vales, who served as his interpreter.

“This is a first-class art school,” Ku said. “In Mexico, we work with rotten sheetrock and pieces of tile that we beg from hut to hut.”

The project should be done by next May, Hinck said.

Other mosaics are under construction, Grossenbacher said, which will adorn walls in Englewood Elementary and the office of Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner – a vocal supporter of the project – who has said that Merida faces similar economic and climatic challenges as Sarasota.

“We want to build relationships with Mexico and eventually other countries that will be sustainable,” Grossenbacher said, noting that the Gulf Coast Foundation of Venice has helped pay for equipment for conversations with our Mexican friends in web-based classrooms.

Vales said he hoped the momentum generated by The Mosaic Project would spill over into subsequent artistic and diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and other countries.

“It’s about children working together, learning about each other’s values,” he said.

Grossenbacher said the cost of the project would be “significant,” if not offset by donations of tile, mosaic board and grout by the Englewood community.

“I would say this project’s cost is priceless, only because of the effort that’s being put in by the students,” he said.

Advertisements