On Wednesday afternoon a group of about 14 people, mainly school-age children, sat in a classroom without air conditioning at the Barclay School placing glass and ceramic tiles on leaf-shaped outlines.
The leaves will eventually be part of a mosaic mural that will be placed on the school’s entrance, portraying the history of the neighborhood, such as the old Oriole Park, which was adjacent to the school, and the people that make up the community, said Marc Francis, the community connections VISTA at the Barclay School.
“We’re really hopeful the mural can reflect the people that live here and use the school,” Francis said.
Monday through Thursday, students and residents can come to the school from 12:30 to 2:30 pm and help put together the pieces making up the mural. The goal is to unveil the mural at the school’s back to school night on Sept. 22.
The cost of the mural, about $8,000, is being covered by a grant from PNC Bank and funds from the Waverly Farmers' Market.
Tamara Payne, a mixed media artist who is working to implement the project, has helped install projects at other schools and completed work in the local communities. But combining the two and pulling together all the information into a cohesive vision for the project has been a challenge, Payne said.
“It’s a little more challenging because it takes a little bit longer. But that’s what you do when you are facilitating and working with the community,” she said.
Payne, a former teacher, and artist Natalie Kossack are also helping lead classes, instructing students and residents on working with the materials that will make up the mural.
“What you see at the end of the day [in the mural] is all these other faces because they become artists themselves,” Payne said.
The mural is more than a facelift for the school.
It’s part of an effort by the Greater Homewood Community Corporation to help encourage Charles Village residents to send their kids to the neighborhood public schools.
The goal is to have students and residents work on the mural together to get community members more engaged and familiar with the school, said John Bernet, Greater Homewood corporation’s assistant director of neighborhood programs.
“It’s a multifold thing that will ideally help community people know the school,” Bernet said.
He said improving the appearance of schools can also help alter the way they’re perceived in the community.
“Many public school buildings are not the prettiest things in the world,” Bernet said.