Brooks art teacher Kristi Murray led 25 students this winter in creating phase two of the fabulous
mosaic in a hallway that the entire student body uses every day at lunchtime. Her art club was co-
taught by guest mosaic artist Sue Coombs, with help from student teacher Lana Bjornson. A few other
teachers got involved as well as parents in expanding last year’s work to a 60 square foot design. “I really
wanted this to be a community event so all of the Brooks community could be a part of it,” said Ms.
Murray. “We tell the students they can come back to Brooks and show their grandchildren the mosaic.
That’s how long this will last.”
The Brooks Mosaic Mural was sponsored by BRAVO, the Oak Park Education Foundation as well as
Brooks activity funds. Almost all of tiles were donated by parents and local design firms. The leftover
pieces will be put to good use in art classes.
The mosaic’s “Green” theme was exciting, educational and inspiring. The most challenging part of the
project, according to Ms. Murray, was building understanding of the technique compared to other types
of artwork. The negative space does not become a blank area or one large overall color (like a painting)
but instead is all mosaic tiles. Craftsmanship is also a challenge; creating really neat and well-made work
takes time and dedication. All the participating students love art and the communal connections they
make in the mosaic art club, and took seriously the permanent nature of the mosaic.
Visiting artist Sue Coombs was expert at choosing the best materials for each area. For example: a real
fork for the “fork in the road,” circular glass gems cut in half and turned on end to look like fish scales,
directional changes in the glass tiles to show the flow of water, mirrors for bike spokes. “Sue is truly the
expert and I, along with the students, am learning so much about this wonderful medium,” said Ms.
Click here to see a slideshow of photos from the project by Ms. Murray.