It’s always inspiring to see creative ideas burst into fruition for all to enjoy. This school year you will find original mosaics by renown artist Tracy Van Duinen gracing prominent exterior walls of Hatch, Longfellow, Irving and Holmes schools. Van Duinen, an accomplished public artist and OPRF art instructor, is a two-time winner of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and also a Golden Apple winner. The Oak Park Education Foundation, along with each school’s art teacher and D97 students, worked directly with Van Duinen to design and install the mosaics. In addition to having a common theme with a circular tree design, they all have individual sub-themes that are specifically tailored to each school. 

The murals were inspired by a mosaic project in Brazil called “100 paredes (walls), mini-mosaics with a nature theme. Van Duinen worked with D97 art teachers to create the circular tree design, and students (including some families during art nights) at four schools worked during the school year to craft their own leaves, themed lettering and other clay design elements.

After seeing the beautiful mosaics at Julian and Brooks, I was really excited to have the opportunity to work with Tracy van Duinen on Longfellow’s Mosaic,” said Jenny Raia, Longfellow Elementary Art teacher. “I learned so much from him about the process of creating mosaics and working collaboratively with students and their families to realize a shared vision. Plans are already underway to expand our mosaic so that it can have an even greater impact on our school community. I’m really grateful that OPEF made this project happen!”

The mosaics were assembled during the summer by students and teachers during OPEF’s BASE Camp, and installed by teachers for the community. 

OPEF expects to partner again with D97 and VanDuinen in 2020 to complete mosaics at the final four D97 schools. Stay tuned!