HFCC Murals for Local Hospital
Seven current and former students from Henry Ford Community College’s Ceramics Club recently teamed with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Detroit’s Lessenger Middle School to create a community arts project for patients at the hospital as well as for students at the middle school.
According to HFCC art instructor Steve Glazer, the goal of the project was to provide city youth and college art students with an opportunity to create a collaborative work of art for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
HFCC students worked with three classes at LMS to create two similar murals, each consisting of three panels done by the three classes. The finished murals are now permanently mounted and installed in the Neurology Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and in the main hallway of LMS after a recent dedication ceremony. The murals depict colorful geometric designs displayed on ceramic tiles.
'The project was a lot of work but a lot of fun,' notes Glazer. 'It had a huge impact on a number of the students at Lessenger Middle School.'
The idea for the project arose when Grace Serra, art advisor at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and HFCC adjunct art instructor, contacted the HFCC Ceramics Club with an idea to work on a collaborative art project with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
'I wanted to partner with the HFCC Ceramics Club to create a public work of art for the hospital,' says Serra.
The next step came when LMS math teacher and HFCC alumnus Amatullah Ahmed sent out an e-mail to HFCC faculty seeking role models and mentors to volunteer some time to work with students at the middle school. Serra immediately contacted Ahmed and the HFCC Ceramics Club.
'I thought the idea was fabulous,' notes Ahmed. 'The students at Lessenger don’t have art classes so this was a big project for us and throughout the project they were wonderful and very well behaved. When you walked into the art room there was a feeling of peace, something you don’t always feel at a middle school!'
Both the HFCC Ceramics Club and the LMS students worked considerably to prepare for the project, according to both Ahmed and Glazer. Prior to working on the project, the students at LMS studied tessellations with Ahmed, a type of pattern design that forms a mosaic pattern by repeating similar shapes. For the project, the LMS students created tessellations on the tiles. The LMS students also studied other math and art-related subjects such as geometry and transformations in preparation for the art project. Meanwhile, the HFCC Ceramics Club tested clay bodies and glazes, finalized design concepts and prepared the materials they worked with in conjunction with the students.
In addition, Serra solicited donations of materials in order to complete the project, getting Speedball Art Products to donate glazes and Dick Blick Art Supplies to donate brushes.
The collaborative work began when HFCC Ceramics Club students brought boards of precut, wet clay tiles for the students at LMS to decorate. Afterwards, the tiles were brought back to the HFCC ceramics laboratory to be fired and glazed. The tiles were then taken back to LMS, where the students determined the final tessellation design.
'The murals are fabulous,' notes Serra. 'All that see them are awestruck and impressed. The HFCC Ceramics Club students were amazing and played a huge role in this project’s success.'
The murals are on display in the Neurology Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and in the main hallway of LMS. Recently a dedication ceremony was held at Children’s Hospital of Michigan which included the HFCC and LMS students who worked on the murals.
'All that participated in this project were changed by it,' notes Serra. 'Everyone would like to participate in another public project like this again.'
'The murals are beautiful,' agrees Ahmed. 'We’re very proud and our students are very invested. They got to do something that is going to be permanently displayed in our school.'
HFCC’s Art Department offers a variety of art courses as well as three programs of study to obtain an associate in arts degree: Art Foundation, Ceramics and Graphic Design.
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