May 13, 2012. The halls of Watauga High School will never be the same … and many students, teachers and administrators are very proud of that. They had a role in creating what one student called, “a piece of Watauga High history” – a 100+ square foot mural architecturally installed in the commons area of the high school on the exterior of the school’s elevator shaft.
Plans for the permanent art project began more than three years ago when representatives from the Watauga County School Board and the Watauga County Arts Council sat down to discuss how an art project could help students and teachers transition from the old school to the new school. The Arts Council set forth a call to artists and a committee then selected Pam Brewer’s proposal for a community art mosaic project entitled, “Portals.”
Brewer, a Watauga High School alumnus, said “the intention of the Mosaic is to create a timeless work of art honoring the educators and the students that have come before, and to pave the way for those that will follow. With this amazingly powerful new work we will be honoring the old school and the dream fulfilled with this new facility, recognizing that though the halls of learning may change, the process of learning is timeless.”
The project took place over two week-long residencies, one per semester this school year. Over four hundred and fifty students have contributed to the work. In the first week of the residency over 300 pounds of clay was used by visual arts students to make personalized tiles that would be fired over the winter months and made ready for the spring installation. Throughout the last week of April, students, teachers, volunteers and administrators mixed two hundred pounds of thin set mortar and one hundred and fifty pounds of grout to install the many, many student produced tiles onto the back of the elevator shaft in the commons of the Watauga High School.
The project immediately began drawing rave reviews. Whit Whitaker, crafts teacher at the high school, has received more than a dozen e-mails praising the work as “beautiful,” “awesome,” “gorgeous,” “impressive” and “wonderful.” Whitaker expressed his appreciation to Brewer and the Arts Council for “providing our students and teachers with such a rewarding collaborative experience.”
The public is invited to join with the Watauga Arts Council, Pam Brewer and WHS visual arts students to commemorate the piece in a public opening on Thursday, May 17 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm in the high school commons area. The opening coincides with Watauga High School’s Senior Art Show. Light refreshments will be made available and live music will be provided.
The Watauga Arts Council is a non-profit local arts agency founded in 1981 whose continuing mission is “to sponsor and encourage the cultural arts in Watauga County with an emphasis on arts in education and the traditional arts.” There are a variety of ongoing programs, services, and collaborations in place to help achieve that goal. As a Designated County Partner of the North Carolina Arts Council, the Watauga Arts Council sub-grants state monies for local arts-related projects and organizations.
For information on this, or other Arts in Education programs of the Watauga Arts Council, contact Christy Blair Chenausky 828-264-1789 or Christy@watauga-arts.org.