Student-created art coming soon to the west wall of Johnson's Grocery

Mosaic artists Karen Neal and Jeanne Wright have been working with Sawtooth Elementary fourth-graders and the Cook County High School fourth period art class since mid-February on a mosaic mural for the west side of the Johnson's Grocery building. 

In order to learn the process, each student created a 6-inch by 6-inch mosaic piece. With ideas from the elementary students, a few members of the high school class designed a mural scene that includes the Grand Marais harbor, a waterfall, an inland lake with a swamp, and woodlands. There are numerous animals in the mural as well.

The design was projected on brown paper and colored by the high school art students, then cut into 4-foot by 4-foot squares. The mural will be 36 feet long and 6-9 feet high.

Each panel was covered with cellophane wrap and a mesh designed for mosaic tiles. 

Twelve teams of students (mixed 4th graders and high-schoolers) are working collaboratively, each on a designated square of the mural. Students are placing the tiles and gluing them to the mesh once the instructors have approved their design. 

After school is out, teams of volunteers will cover sheets of Durock with thinset, then transfer the mesh and tiles to the Durock. Once finished, each panel is expected to weigh about 150 pounds.

The Johnsons are insulating the west wall of their store and covering the surface with a smooth layer of stucco. Once the stucco has cured, the pieces will be taken there, attached to the wall, and grouted.

The project is expected to be on the wall by mid-summer.

This project was made possible by donations from local artists and residents, the Northland Foundation, the ISD 166 Education Foundation, Thrivent, the Lionesses, the Lions, and the Cook County Visitors Bureau. The new Art 'Round Town organization has raised funds and coordinated the many facets of this project.