Event: School graduation / mural unveiling
One of Utah's largest works of mosaic art is nearing completion at Utah's first International Spanish Academy, North Davis Preparatory Academy (NDPA) in Layton.
Chantal Esquivias is a Spanish teacher at NDPA and a native of Spain. Esquivias loved the school but thought that the building's facade could be transformed to support the aesthetic point of view of the school's Spanish immersion program. In early 2011 Esquivias contacted Sandy-based artist Roger Whiting who agreed that a large-scale mosaic would be a great teaching opportunity and a fantastic addition to the school.
After meeting with Whiting in August, they both decided that decorating the pillars in front of the school, while an incredibly ambitious task, would result in the most transformative experience for the school. Says Esquivias, "These mosaics will show how our Charter school, NDPA, is somewhere different than an average school, a place where Spanish and Hispanic culture is learned, taught and lived."
In order to draw inspiration from Spain, Whiting prefaced the brainstorming process of the project by teaching the students the history of mosaic art in Europe, with an emphasis on how Spanish artist Antonio Gaudí's art was unique in that it was mosaic art that was clearly made of broken-up prefabricated tile (unlike Renaissance mosaics, which tried to look like paintings).
Sketches for the pillars were developed as the students read "Fairy Tales from Spain" by J. Munoz Escamez. Three tales, "The Judgment of the Flowers", "The Garden of Health", and "The Treasure of the Dragon" were chosen for depiction. The students summarized the tales, divided the story into its key moments, and created sketches of those moments in the stories. Whiting then assembled the sketches into black and white designs for the mosaics, which the students colored. Whiting then used those color studies to develop the final draft of the design.
The youth went before the school board in October to get the designs approved, and once a week for the next four months the students met with Whiting to assemble the mosaics onto fiberglass mesh. Assembly was completed in January 2012.
Once the climate allowed, Whiting returned to the school to begin installation. The students participated in almost all aspects of installation including mortaring the pillars, applying the mosaics, patching missing tiles, grouting the mosaics, and sealing the grout. Due to the size of the project, installation took about 60 hours, with students from Esquivias and Lidia Pascual's classes providing most of the student labor.
Students involved in the project enjoyed the project for various reasons:
"I would recommend [the project] to anyone who likes art and breaking stuff." - Wyatt, 8th Grade
"It isn't every day that you get to work with mosaics. It's like a big puzzle that you don't have the answer to." - Jakob, 8th Grade
Funding for the project was provided by Art Access Utah, in connection with the Utah State Office of Education Special Education Services Unit. Additional support funding for the project was supplied by NDPA and POET, the school's parent organization.
Completion of the project will be celebrated at NDPA's graduation ceremony, this coming Friday, May 25th at 10:30am. Members of the press and community are invited to participate in this celebration.
Roger Whiting (Community Artist) - (801) 707-3580 murals@
Chantal Esquivias (Spanish Teacher / Project Organizer)- (801) 837-3362 - CEsquivias@northdavisprep.org
Kim Lovell (Assistant Principal) - (801) 336-3601 - KLovell@NorthDavisPrep.org