Ice Pie Spirals

A photo of the glass tile mosaic, before it was completed.

“Ice Pie Spirals” is a 8’ x 12’ public art mosaic inside Tippecanoe County’s Klondike Elementary School. After seeing my “Ice Pie” mosaic, I was selected to be Klondike’s artist-in-residence for their 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. In a hall where students pass by daily on their way outdoors, a wall between windows overlooking a nature courtyard with a pond provided a perfect setting for another educational nature mosaic.  By providing endless hours of visual interest (playing ‘I spy …’) while waiting in lines, my environmentally-based mosaic could once again offer a fun access to nature enjoyment and awareness.

With the cooperation of retiring art teacher Lisa Ariano, I was able to engage the whole school community – a diverse population of students (900 kindergarten to fifth graders, during her art classes), teachers, and staff – in creating tesserae from recycled magazines. Searching and finding thousands of nature images and words, we then incorporated them via decoupage under tiny, small and medium round glass lenses. Everyone made one or more (including new 2015-16 students), while both Lisa and I made hundreds of others. We printed simple to complex nature vocabulary and used labeled images for educational purposes from old dictionaries and reference books to celebrate our natural world. Over many weekends and summer months, slowly but surely this ‘cool’ mosaic grew on the wall as I carefully crafted as many individual tesserae as possible into my design. I also created a second area for educational nature visuals, by painting NATURE in super graphics and using extra tesserae as the border around a nearby hall board. With the help of scout troops who meet at the school, educational information (from DNR materials, identification book pages, nature brochures, calendars or posters) can change monthly.

Endorsed as a Legacy Project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission in 2016, I consulted area nature groups and experts to include over 200 important flora and fauna native to Indiana: mammals, amphibians, trees, fruit, reptiles, plants, fish, birds, insects, flowers, places, etc. Collaborative public art projects like these perfectly integrate my interests in community, art, education and environment. My hope is to inspire a new generation with environmental appreciation to perhaps help counteract the destructive climate changes of global warming on our planet’s ecosystems, for a more sustainable future for earth.          -Linda Vanderkolk