Eye Hand Collaboration

Title:  Eye Hand Collaboration

Site:  Steinmetz Academic Centre
3030 N. Mobile, Chicago

Artists: Olivia Gude

Community Participants: Steinmetz Academic Centre Students

Sponsors:  Chicago Public Art Group, Steinmetz Academic Centre, Looking for America, City of Chicago Neighborhood Arts Program, and the Illinois Arts Council Artist-In-Residency Program

Year:  1995

Scale:  175 square feet

Materials: Glass tile mosaic

Information:  Olivia Gude conceived of the idea of the Steinmetz mosaic project after reading an article in the newspaper about racial trouble at the multi-ethnic school. Tensions between recent Polish immigrants, Mexican American students, and African American students had led to a series of incidents including fights, bitter name calling, and racist graffiti. Gude suggested that the school consider creating a public art project as part of their proactive anti-prejudice programming.

The decision was made to create contemporary glass-tile mosaics in the historic entranceway to the school. Gifted art students were selected to participate in the process of designing the mosaics.

Later in the year, a mosaic workshop was set up in the school basement. Small groups of students were selected to work on the project each class period. In all, eighty two students worked on this first phase of the project.

A unstated intent of the project was to create the opportunity for students to have facilitated conversations about racial issues in the school. The quiet, secluded, and relaxed atmosphere of the mosaic workshop lent itself to developing deep and thoughtful discussions about the social issues of the school, even as the students were intently engaged on crafting the work.

At the end of project, students assisted the professional tile setters in installing the work. The multi-racial group of youth artists were delighted to hang around in the hallway and hear fellow students, faculty, and staff compliment them, often repeating over and over, “We had no idea that it would be this good!”

The first 11 column faces were so successful, the school asked the artist to return to create more panels the next year.