Shapeshifting Ideas, Transcending the Surface

Title:  Shapeshifting Ideas, Transcending the Surface

Site:  Cameron Elementary School
1234 N. Monticello Ave, Chicago

Artists: Juan Chávez, Stephanie George, and Julia Sowles

Community Participants: Kunle Adeniji, Brashaunda Coleman, Lance Ellis, Donnell Hall, Antonio Jackson, Sheveda McMurtry, Gladis Ramirez, Santons Ruiz, Rolando Sierra, and Nicolas Toro

Sponsors: Chicago Public Art Group, Gallery 37, and Youth Service Project

Year:  1996

Scale:  180 square feet

Materials: Broken ceramic tile

Information:  Consisting of eleven separate elements, this mosaic adorning the facade of Cameron Elementary School focuses on ideas of transformation. It combines handmade ceramic pieces and cracked tile mosaic to portray the changeable chameleon as a symbol of adaptation--the animal that can become part of the environment that surrounds it. Though a whimsical image, it’s also a metaphor for life: children, like the chameleon, reflect their environment; if their surroundings--such as schools and neighborhoods--are safe and nurturing, they can develop their creativity, learn, and explore positive opportunities. The team used a variety of commercial tiles to create varied patterns and textures within the mosaic.