Art that celebrates: Alcona students to unveil ceramic tile mural on Thursday

Courtesy Art Alcona Community School students work on the tiles for the mural. The mural is scheduled to be premiered on Thursday.

LINCOLN — The students of Alcona Community Schools prepare to display a testament to their hard work and love of their community as they set up to unveil a ceramic tile mural on Thursday they have been working on since January.

This collaborative art project, spearheaded by Alcona art teacher Eric Carlson, has engaged over 30 students in his ninth and 10th grade art class.

“This mural is a celebration of Alcona County,” Carlson said. “The students brainstormed ideas that represent our community, focusing on outdoor activities, wildlife, farming, and the iconic lighthouse.”

According to Carlson, over the school year, the students created approximately 80 ceramic tiles, each contributing to a cohesive six-foot-tall and one-foot-wide mural. The process taught them invaluable lessons in teamwork and artistry. They had to ensure their pieces fit seamlessly together, often checking in with one another and making adjustments as needed. Despite a few setbacks, such as tiles breaking or exploding in the kiln, the students persevered, showcasing their resilience and creativity.

“It was challenging at times,” Carlson said, “But the students really came together and made something beautiful and meaningful.”

Carlson expressed excitement about the project’s impact on the students and the community.

“This has been an incredible learning experience for the kids,” he said. “They had to overcome challenges and work together in ways they never had before. It’s also a beautiful way for them to leave a legacy at the school.”

Looking ahead, Carlson plans to continue integrating ceramics into the curriculum by reinstating a ceramics and pottery class in the fall.

While Carlson says he doesn’t have any immediate plans for another large-scale project, he says there will be opportunities for students to work on smaller, individual projects that can be displayed throughout the school.

“I don’t have any intention to build another great big one like this anytime soon,” Carlson said. “But smaller scale stuff could maybe be done throughout other areas of the school.”

Carlson credits the project’s success to the support of Alcona resident Helen Heirta who was instrumental in helping secure funding for the project.

Heirta hopes to see more people in the Alcona community learn the beauty and opportunity that can come with artistic expression.

“My whole purpose is to share what I understand about art,” Heirta said. “It’s healing, it’s uplifting, and it can create economic prosperity. That’s what Alcona County needs.”


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