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Mosaic Mural grades K-5

Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanitites

315 students in grades K-5 at Sorensen Magnet school collaborated with Spokane Washington based artist Melissa Cole to create a vibrant external mosaic and painted mural. The mural spanned 112 feet by approximately 3-6 feet in height. This project was part of a highly successful Artist in Residence program hosted by Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities. This project served to beautify the school and neighboring community. It served as a message to the community that we are an arts school as well as offering a gift to the community to be enjoyed by all.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do objects, places, and design shape lives and communities?

Students saw a blank cement wall on the outside of their school. They understood the vision to create a beautiful piece of art that would be enjoyed by the school and the greater community. Through their experience of collaborating with each other and artist in residence Melissa Cole students saw this vision realized and their unique contribution to it. Through a time when our school and community systems were stretched to a breaking point this project showed how shared art experiences have the power to overcome social barriers.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work: Students studied elements of this project in multiple disciplines. They researched local flora and fauna and wrote papers on it. They decorated their classrooms and hallways with drawn images. By the time they placed the paint and mosaics on the wall the students had a great understanding of local plants and animals. Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work:The students understood that sequence and process organized by the lead artist. The mosaic tiles were created first and integrated into the painted design. They placed individual glass tiles to create accents that would be transformed into a beautiful landscape. Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work: Students learned that their individual piece when combined with the work of 300 of their peers had a much greater impact. Standard #5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation: Students took their mosaic skills learned in this project to the next level in their classrooms. 4th graders used the same skills to create ceramic tiles which were then sold at our school auction


The school year was deeply fractured and difficult for both students and staff. The political climate and covid restrictions created an ever stressful and changing environment. This project proved to be an emotional, unifying, and healing experience for both our school and community. I believe that being able to complete this project during the time of Covid-19 will serve as a symbol of hope for our community for many years to come.


This time was unique in history, and I only can say that simply completing the mural was a success. I cannot say what it would have been like to do this project under normal circumstances, except that I?m sure it would have been easier! We faced many challenges of scheduling, cleaning issues, mask wearing, and limited gatherings. We were unable to plan much in advance of the project which required a lot of flexibility and inability to do everything we had hoped to do initially. Overall, the way this project gave us all a strong feeling of hope and togetherness was a huge success. The artist and staff worked with incredible determination to complete the project that would have been easy to set aside during such a difficult year.