THE ARTS - Sue Stockman
By Judy Colbert

September 10, 2010
Taste of the Bay

Mosaics are Firing Up Pupils

Sue Stockman is understandably pleased when she views a mosaic mural she and woodworker Bobby Malzone have just finished installing, such as the
recently hung 6-foot by 30-foot piece adorning the exterior of the
Eastport Elementary School.

Sue Stockman and Bobby Malzone isntall mosaic on Eastport Elementary School (MD)

It's colorful, decorative, reflects the area around the school's location, and
perhaps most important, the students helped create it.

For these St. Michael's artists, what's more pleasing is hearing the students talk about their experience.

"I had fun. I learned that you can make anything you just have to believe in yourself," said Daniel from Riviera Beach Elementary, where the 3-foot by 10-foot mural he worked on, incorporating indigenous plants and animals, including bull nose ray, rockfish, jellyfish, heron and blue crab hangs.

"I learned that working with a group was fun," said fellow classmate Haley
Victoria, another student, said, "I liked when we had to put the cement down and really use our muscles to use the rag and get the stuff off the glass and tiles. Finally after all that hard work, I think it looks really great."

Hailey added, "I loved what we did and I want to do it again. I loved how we made the cattails, the turtles, and everything else. The most fun was when Bobby sang songs to us, everybody was happy and not mad at anybody. People had fun gluing and breaking and enjoying themselves. I had so much fun with Sue, she was the one that wanted to talk about the day
and listen to everyone talk their talk. I really had fun with
all the music and dancing. I love the mosaic."

Many of these mosaic school projects are funded through the state AiE (Artists-in-Residence Program) that allows students, faculty, and artists the opportunity to participate in a collaborative creative program. Other funds may come from a county arts program, Title I funding, or local fund-raising.
An AiE project may last for an intensive week or be spread out over a longer period of time. It might be performance, puppetry, theater, playwriting, architecture, ceramics, fiber art, photography, sculpture, music, poetry, or other creations.

The students, faculty, and artists participate in the collaborative creative program, from idea submission (from drawing contests to discussions) to design to material collection (in the case of a mural project, glass, plates and
dishes, bottles, and other elements) to installation.

"The students bring in the broken pieces and glue them into
place, giving them ownership," says Stockman. By using found
objects, they learn the value of recycling materials and environmental awareness. The completed piece is a visual reminder and conveys the students' pride.

"Students are grouped together to create an element and then the elements
are joined. The emphasis," says Stockman, "is on teamwork and the shared pride that results in creating a large impressive piece of artwork."

"Almost every child knows which piece or pieces he or she applied to the mosaic and proudly shows where it is in the mural," says Lynne Evans, Eastport's principal.

"Bobby," Stockman said, "has natural talent to connect to kids and he brings in the element of music with his guitar and some of the children work on songs about what we were creating. They sing songs while working on the mosaic, adding another dimension," to projects that she hasn't been able to
include before.

As the older students are taught to use and are trusted with professional tools and materials that could be considered risky, they develop pride knowing that those supervising have confidence in them to use these items correctly.

"Everyone treats everyone with respect and kindness," says Stockman,
"and they know they have to be safe. Rarely does anyone have
to be reprimanded."

Stockman has worked on seven local mural projects this year. Her, and the students' work can be seen at St. Michael's High, St. Michael's elementary, Chapel District elementary, Eastport, Riviera Beach, Hillcrest and the Annapolis Area Christian School.