Thomson High School artists are bringing their talent out of the classroom and into the main hall of the school for others to enjoy.
Under the direction of art teacher Claudia Wells, students enrolled in ceramics are using a mosaic technique to decorate three large concrete planters in the school's entrance hall.
Erika Vasquez applies pieces of tile to a planter.
"They (the planters) are the first thing you see when you walk in," Mrs. Wells said.
Principal Rudy Falana asked for ideas to brighten up the planters, and Mrs. Wells and her art students enthusiastically responded. Visitors, teachers and other students are already expressing interest and appreciation in the half-finished mosaic project.
"People say how nice it looks," Mr. Falana said. "The project builds pride, teaches responsibility, and brightens the front as you come in," he added.
"I like having the opportunity to show off their work," Mrs. Wells said. "They work so hard and do such a good job."
The project is a team effort. One art student researched options and designed a wave pattern under the rim of each planter. The entire class of 19 students is in the process of gluing tiny ceramic pieces to the pots.
The students first chop the tile into random shapes using a cutting tool, then place the colorful glass pieces one by one within the wave pattern.
Because the pieces are all uniquely shaped, making them fit tightly together can pose challenges, the students said.
Dantrell Winfrey (left) and Dee Davis work on a pot.
"I take a piece, then play around with it until it fits," said Helen Hill.
With an eye toward creating a harmonious color pattern, Ms. Hill carefully selected a variety of hues for each small section.
"I learned how to make the colors work together and help the eye travel through the pattern," she said.
Student Erika Vasquez is having fun while learning a new skill that may come in handy in the future.
The dedicated art student, who thinks the mosaic technique may help with a future career in architecture, said "It's a new experience for me, and I am really enjoying it. I like the colors and shapes."
Working with mosaics on a vertical surface was challenging, but students are learning techniques that help them bond the pieces tightly.
This isn't the first time Mrs. Wells has taken art out of the classroom. Her students also brightened up a school hallway by painting some of the ceiling tiles in the style of well know artists, and won regional recognition last year in the Augusta Symphony Guild's Painted Violin Competition in celebration of that organization's 50th Anniversary. The designs from 12 winners, including the four Thomson students, were featured on the Augusta Symphony Calendar.
No matter what the project, Mrs. Wells likes to mesh art and community.
"It's good to let them make a contribution," Mrs. Wells said.