Rozelle Creative and Performing Arts Elementary School is getting a fresh look for its 100th anniversary celebration next year. Graduate Arts students from the University of Memphis are creating elaborate window design concepts for the school, including one idea featuring a soaring eagle mosaic made up of student faces and another with dancing silhouetted students with teachers as pillars holding them up.
“This particular project is very exciting since it’s a collaboration with the University of Memphis and their graduate students,” said Angela Less of River Arts Fest. “With Rozelle being a creative and performing arts school, it’s a wonderful fit.”
The project came about thanks to an Arts First grant to River Arts Fest from First Tennessee Foundation and Arts Memphis. The grant funds “Art in the Making,” which places professional artists and graduate students in local schools.
“Projects like these allow children to truly see the making of art,” said Less. “The basis for ‘Art in the Making’ is that we hope children of all ages will develop high-level, critical thinking skills from being involved with the Arts.”
Grad students working on the project visited Rozelle several times earlier in the year to meet with students and faculty to get a feel for the school. They used John Baldassari’s influential READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM work at UC San Diego as inspiration and came up with design choices for students and staff to think over before making a final decision.
“The University of Memphis graduate Arts students were blown away by how incredible a gift this school has been to many students and families - the generations of families who have come and gone to Rozelle - they surmised that it is why it is the best kept secret in Memphis,” said Rozelle Visual Arts Director Kim Wannette, who explained how professor Richard Lou, chair of the Arts Department at the U. of M., came out to the school to check the site for a new painted mural and became curious if the school had any plans for the many windows on the front of the building.
Lou has fostered a variety of student community work over the past three decades. Some of the projects he’s led include artistic murals for schools and learning centers, and some of his former students were instrumental in forming the La Centro Latino Cultural Center in Memphis.
He plans to look for fundraising and in-kind support options to cover some of the cost of the materials needed for the project, with completion scheduled in time for Rozelle’s 100th birthday next year.