Volunteering on MLK Day:
Each year, the third Monday of January is a federal holiday and is celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day #mlkday. This is around Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The day is observed as a national day of service when people take the “day on, not a day off.” Dr King is known to have famously said, “Everyone can be great because everybody can serve.”
To celebrate his legacy, the MLK Day of Service “encourages all types of service, particularly projects that have a lasting impact and connect participants to ongoing service”.
Last year – 2017 – I painted hubcap flowers that were later used to beautify a neighborhood in East Jacksonville.
This year – 2018 – I chose to participate in a volunteering activity that attracted my artistic instinct immediately – mosaic art. The project was interesting – we were invited to help complete an artist’s vision of a wall that would decorate an old heritage spot of Jacksonville.
Mosaic art to revitalize a neighborhood:
The project was organized by Groundwork Jacksonville, a local non-profit doing some really interesting environmental work around neighborhoods. Their website says they are “working to restore and connect the streams and parks of Jacksonville’s Emerald Necklace to revitalize the historic neighborhoods of our city’s urban core.”
The mosaic design is inspired by Sugar Hill residents, past and present. The mosaic will be installed along the S-Line Urban Greenway as it passes under I-95 near the intersection of 13th at Davis Street. Photos of the area look like it has been neglected for a while. I was told that the neighborhood was once home to an active African-American community with several prominent leaders that have made important contributions to the country. So the conceptual 7-pillar design has been inspired by the residents of Sugar Hill. Most of the past residents moved to make way for projects like the construction of i95 and the expansion of a medical center.
Here is an interesting piece describing the history of Sugar Hill.
Mosaic art is a slow, meticulous process
The creative brain behind the project are artists from RouxArt, a local art studio. Our project was indoors at their studio where they had all the material ready for us. We started by placing circular medallion mounds that had been made by the residents of Sugar Hill. This way the mural will be a community project involving the residents of Sugar Hill and citizens from around Jacksonville. The circles would be surrounded by our artwork called the ‘parentheses’.
We were then showed how to put blobs of mortar – using popsicle sticks – on little colorful stones, pebbles, tiles and mirrors and then stuck them onto a panel in different rows. The key tip was to use a spacer and ensure the stones were placed at an equal distance from each other. Guiding us through the process was Kate Garcia Rouh, the lead artist and designer of the project. Each tile had to be carefully placed and then pasted onto the layout. The whole process was pretty meditative.
Here are pictures from the event. I intend to make my own mosaic mural soon.