Truckee Elementary students create mural | SierraSun.com
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Truckee Elementary students create mural

Renee Shadforth
Colin FisherTeacher Susan Dorwart stands next to a mural created by Truckee Elementary School students.
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Images of football and snowflakes, and snowboarders to birds’ nests, these are what represent the seasons for Truckee Elementary students.

A tile mural of the seasons, created by last year’s third, fourth and fifth graders, was supposed to be placed on the wall by the end of last school year but was not complete in time. Now, after a summer to forget about their project, this year’s fourth and fifth graders saw their creation in the hallway.

“It was very abstract for the students. They couldn’t get it that it was contributing to a permanent piece of artwork,” said Susan Dorwart, an art teacher at Truckee Elementary, who was in charge of the project. “I think now they’ll understand.”

The mural, titled “Truckee Through the Seasons,” consists of 363 tiles, most created by students and a few created by faculty. Each tile depicts a student’s representation of a season and includes the artist’s initials in the corner. A couple of the tiles are memorials for a student and a teacher’s aide who passed away recently. The project was funded through a grant from the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation.

On her tile, fifth-grader Natalia Andrews painted what spring means to her: a softball in front of a mountain. Andrews said her feelings about the mural might be different from her schoolmates.

“It’s strange because I really get nervous about it. Some people might be really proud,” Andrews said.

It took six weeks for students to complete project last school year. First they drew a picture depicting all four seasons in Truckee on a 4-inch-square piece of paper. Then Dorwart picked the square she liked the best from each student.

Students then outlined the drawing on the tile and painted over it with underglaze.

“Then we put pink glaze on top, but it turned out clear,” said Andrews, pointing to her tile. “That’s pretty neat.”

For most of the students it was their first time working with ceramics, so they were a little surprised when Dorwart told them to put the pink finishing glaze on top of their creations.

“I had to reassure them that [the glaze] would turn out clear,” Dorwart said.

Over the summer, the tiles were set in a frame. Just days before the first day of school, Dorwart’s husband, Michael, mounted the mural on the wall.

Dorwart has been teaching ceramics for 30 years, so each year she tries to incorporate the art form in her students’ art projects. “Truckee Through the Seasons” was her first large-scale project at Truckee Elementary.

But this collaborative project, she said, has been extra special.

“It should be very positive for the first day of school.”


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