From the Press Release:
The mosaic, which takes up a full wall on the outside of the school facing Evergreen Avenue, was designed by Jennie Shanker and Emily Squires, two highly respected, talented artists from Philadelphia. After meeting with school administrators, donors, faculty, and students, Shanker and Squires created a mosaic design with a reading and literacy theme. Three student workshops were held to create the hundreds of handmade tiles needed to bring the mosaic to life.
But tiles were not the only items needed to make the mosaic a reality. First, funds were procured from several generous grants including those from the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders via a grant from the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission. The Gloucester County Youth Services Commission was the grant administrator and recommended this project to the Freeholders. In addition, additional funds were donated from school neighbor, Related Management – Woodlake/Lakeside Apartments.
Besides funding partners, many local organizations donated either their time or supplies to the mosaic project. These include the Gloucester County Parks and Recreation Department, Ledden-Palimeno, Restorative Justice Commission, Home Depot in Mantua, South Jersey Glass, and Woodbury Garden Club.
More than just artwork, the mosaic has turned a blank brick wall into a beautiful, eye-catching display with a message to all who view it.
"We wanted a permanent piece of artwork on the front of our school that would inspire and communicate the importance and power of reading," Principal Jason Vivadelli explained. "Our two artists – Jennie and Emily – were able to incorporate that vision and those of students, parents, and community members – into a beautifully complex, yet refined, mosaic. It has been such a joy to see the smiles on our students' faces as they find their tile on the wall. They have created a legacy that will remain here at Evergreen long after they leave."
In a joint statement from the artists, Shanker and Squires indicated that "this project has felt so special from the start. From our conversations with teachers, students, parents and neighbors, to the outpouring of support from volunteers and businesses, this mural has truly been the work of an engaged community. What a pleasure to collaborate with a school whose motto is 'Keep Love Present'— we have enjoyed every day of this work. We are proud of the mosaic, and grateful to have had the opportunity to be engaged with Woodbury and Evergreen Avenue Elementary School.
"The workshops with the students were essential to the creation of this mural. In talking with community members we learned that people who grow up here feel strongly connected to Woodbury. We love the fact that the students' work will be part of this building permanently, and they will be able to revisit it throughout their lives and share it with their families."
Read through the project's blog here.