Article courtesy of Teri Sorg-McManamon
Emmaus, PA (March 17, 2015) --- On Sunday, April 19, art teachers from East Penn School District unveiled the long-awaited Emmaus Mosaic Mural displayed on the rotunda wall of the Emmaus Public Library. The mural was dedicated at 3:00pm on the final day of the art installation when Philadelphia artist, Isaiah Zagar will be on hand. The brief program included music performed by the East Penn Elementary Chamber Players, light refreshment and the dedication of the mural to the Emmaus community. A special tile honoring those who made this unique public art possible will be attached to the bottom right corner of the wall with the words, East Penn Art Teachers and Isaiah Zagar. The art teachers accomplished this project as part of their required educational development hours.
Although the community is invited and welcome to watch the installation being completed from a special viewing area, only East Penn art teachers and selected students along with Isaiah Zagar himself will actually construct the mural.
The project involved diverse groups of people and is constructed entirely through donations. Additional funding was provided by activities led by the art teachers and the Emmaus Arts Commission who furnished oversight and financial help to the project along with many other generous donors.
The East Penn School District art teachers launched the unique community art project after a teacher in-service day in October 2012 when district art teachers had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia and work with local artist, Isaiah Zagar. Known for his landmark Magic Gardens and the beautification of South Street in Philadelphia, Zagar shared not only his artwork, but also his creative process, mosaic technique and the impact his art has had on the community. When the teachers returned to Emmaus they realized they had a strong desire to create a community art piece in Zagar’s mosaic style. A mosaic is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, or glass. Several meetings and more than one year later, the group of teachers turned their conversation into a plan. Known as the Emmaus Mosaic Mural Project, the public art is aimed at providing art, culture and beauty to Emmaus’ already rich legacy. During the planning process, the group met with the Emmaus Arts Commission and the Emmaus Public Library board of directors for their input and support.
East Penn students, art teachers, and Isaiah Zagar himself participated in the making of the mosaic by creating ceramic tile based art. The finished work will be displayed permanently on the outside wall of the Emmaus Public Library’s Margaret Knoll Gardner Lecture Room. The location was chosen because it is a highly visible location, outside where passersby will see it.
Isaiah Zagar visited Emmaus to familiarize himself with the mosaic site as well as to tour some of the Borough’s many iconic landmarks and meet with the art teachers to discuss the creative process and brainstorm possible designs for the mural. The session helped formulate the overall feel and visual that the group was trying to achieve. During that meeting and freeform sketching that took place, Isaiah used a phrase that resonated with the teachers and helped them focus on "an abstraction of a map of our community" - a mural that will portray Emmaus. Council unanimously approved the Mosaic Project on Library property. Public art is common throughout the Lehigh Valley where it can create attachment to one’s community and offer a sense of place. “Art should not be integrated into museums, it should live free among us,” says
Isaiah Zagar, whose method includes finding a local inspiration, gathering supplies, producing tiles, creating “blobs” in his studio, and finally wall preparation by parging the surface, which enables the mosaic materials to adhere to the facade. The creative method was complete once the leading line was drawn as a compositional device to layout the tiles. Besides several Philadelphia communities, Zagar-inspired murals can be found across the United States and include the Germantown Academy in Germantown, Pennsylvania, throughout the community of Racine, Wisconsin, the Institute of Mosaic Art in Berkeley, California, and public walls within Main Gate Square in Tucson, Arizona.
Since 2005 the Emmaus Arts Commission has brought family-friendly events and artistic community pride to Emmaus and the Lehigh Valley. With the backing of the Emmaus Borough Council and the surrounding businesses, the mission is to encourage and promote all of the arts and to develop an appreciation of the arts, which will enrich and enhance the quality of life within the Emmaus and surrounding Pennsylvania areas. EAC events such as the SnowBlast Winter Festival and the Student Horror Film Festival are made possible through generous contributions and fundraising such as the Rain Barrel Art Silent Auction. For more information about the Emmaus Arts Commission, visit http://www.emmausarts.org.
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