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Miller South art students get the pink carpet treatment

By admin Published: February 11, 2012

Grown-ups wearing fancy dresses and tuxedos with top hats and white gloves rolled out a pink carpet and offered mini-cinnamon rolls on platters to children arriving at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts Friday morning.

It was the surprise grand opening with all the glamour of a Hollywood premiere of a student-made ceramic tile mural that arches over the interior entrance to the school.

''Don't you feel like you're at the Golden Globes?'' Shaker Heights ceramic artist George Woideck asked as the wide-eyed students sampled the glazed cinnamon ''hors d'oeuvres'' and admired the mural.

Woideck worked with about 135 Miller South arts students to create the mural, which depicts scenes of musicians, actors and artists representing the school's curriculum.

Charles Allgood, a seventh-grade art student, had been looking forward to seeing the finished arch. His team worked on the lower right corner, depicting an artist who uses a wheelchair.

''I can't believe I'm seeing it,'' he said.

But he didn't expect the glitz.

''I'm like, 'Oh, top hat. This is going to be exciting,'?'' he said.

Joshua Taylor, a seventh-grader who didn't work on the mural, also was surprised by the red-carpet treatment, which was modified to reflect the school's official colors: black, white and hot pink.

''I was kind of surprised and scared when I came in. Then I realized what it was,'' he said. ''I like the pink carpet.''

The entrance is in a foyer that was added to the school to accommodate an elevator. The addition has a large window that was, well, not aesthetically pleasing, art teacher Susan Yingling said.

''It started because this window was so ugly,'' Yingling said. Yingling and fellow art teacher Malia Tschantz hoped that an archway mural could become the focal point of the entrance and make the ugly window sort of disappear.

The Miller South Booster Club contributed $1,200 and the teachers petitioned the school for another $1,200 so it could get some help from a Cleveland arts education organization called Young Audiences Arts for Learning.

''They do all of the arts,'' Yingling said. ''They're a really good resource if you want to look for somebody to come and do something.''

Young Audiences sent Woideck, who met with the students in December and collected their drawings.

''He took their drawings and created the mural from their drawings, and then brought all the tiles back and kids painted them,'' Yingling said.

The mural comprises about 200 6-inch-square glazed ceramic tiles. Painting them was difficult because students could apply only one layer of color, with no colors overlapping, so that the surface stayed shiny and smooth. Two layers of paint would dull the finish; three layers would make it rough like sandpaper.

Maria Finney, a fifth-grade artist, worked on part of the piano's keyboard in the mural. She showed a classmate which tiles she worked on, soaking up the gala scene.

''I thought it was awesome,'' she said.

John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com.

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