Mosaics bring other cultures to Greystone Elementary

Published 5:15 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

Soon, visitors to Greystone Elementary will see a colorful kaleidoscope of culture on the school’s walls.

The school’s 700 students are all currently taking part in a large-scale mosaic tile project, headed up by art teacher Blue Horn.

The mosaics reflect on the divergent backgrounds of Greystone Elementary students. Horn has a master list of 21 countries that her students come from, including Colombia, Kuwait, Mexico and Russia, just to name a few.

“I knew that art is a great way to bring a community together, so I picked a theme that could bring all our students together,” she said. “I want the kids from other countries to feel welcomed and connected.”

Students started on the project as soon as they came back from Christmas break. Horn hopes that the project, which includes 40 mosaics, will be done by the end of February.

At that point, the art will be permanently installed onto the walls of Greystone Elementary. When that happens, it will bring some fun back into the building, Horn said.

“School buildings, if I had my way, they would look completely different,” she said. “If you can make them a lot more fun for the kids, and not so sterile like a hospital, that’s awesome.”

Fifth-grader Justin Ramirez said he agrees completely with Horn’s worldview.

“The walls are kind of boring, so it’d be good if we put these up,” he said. “Art is just beautiful to me.”

Various companies around Birmingham donated tile for the project, and the Greystone PTA gave Horn $2,500 to buy any other needed supplies.

Horn said after installing the first 40 pieces, she hopes to have her art classes add to the mosaics every year. Working on the mosaics this year has given her a chance to teach the children values such as tolerance and awareness of other cultures, she said.

“The art takes a while to do, but the results are incredible, and bring pride for our students when they see the final pieces,” she said. “It makes the building they live in every day more aesthetically pleasing. My kids that are from the other countries have a little piece of home.”

Those pieces of home truly matter, because they will be at Greystone Elementary for a long, long time, said fifth-grader Alyssa Alfano.

“I really love working with art, and these mosaics are going to be in this school for as long as this school is standing,” she said.