Last fall, the Joseph H. Messina Children's Center put out a call to artists through the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. The center was transforming their large outdoor environment into a natural playscape and was looking for artists to paint murals and install mosaic art. I spotted the call and expressed my interest.
After touring the site with Tammy Aronson, the facility's director, I realized how creating any sort of mosaic in this large space would be a huge undertaking. Knowing how generous the mosaic art community was, I put out my own call to artists on Flickr. I requested that participating artists donate ungrouted mosaic panels to be installed on an outdoor wall.
Within a few days of my posting, close to 20 artists from all over the world agreed to contribute and within the next few months my mailbox was flooded with beautiful artwork depicting local wildlife and themes that would engage the children. I even had a 7 year old from Philadelphia make and contribute a colorful mosaic of her hand print.
In March of 2011, I began planning the installation at the facility on Fowler Street in Fort Myers. After speaking with Tammy about the proposed location of the mural, I decided that creating an outdoor gallery would be the best course of action. The mosaics were laid out in small groupings on the outdoor walls along a sunny breezeway dubbed "Linda Lane".
The installation, along with the cheerful mosaic stepping stones that the children had already made, instantly transformed the space into a vibrant, tropical art space, adding to the creative atmosphere that the facility staff and volunteers had begun months earlier.
The "Messina Mural Project" has come to life in the form of a permanent outdoor art gallery.
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I would like to thank the 19 artists that donated their time, creativity and resources to the project. I could not have made this project a reality without you!
I would also like to thank Tammy Aronson and the faculty at the J.H. Messina Children's Center for their kind regard and hospitality throughout the project.