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As artists-in-residence, Jeanne and David Aurelius have led large-scale tile mural projects across Wisconsin. After 10 years of working with schools, churches and community non-profits, they have fine-tuned the process and bring to the project their artistic expertise and substantial teaching and organizational skills.

The murals are a tribute to the artists’ ability to mold individual creativity into a communal artistic effort. Their belief that the value of each mural lies in the joy and learning of the process that created it drives them to work diligently with each new community of artists to find their common visions and values, and incorporate them into their mural.

Most projects have taken place in elementary schools, with students from preschool on up sharing in the excitement of creating a mural. “It is very exciting for children to see their drawings transformed into clay and for their tiles to be combined to create an imaginative mural that sings with the energy and vitality unique to children,” states Jeanne Aurelius.

The process begins with meetings and planning sessions, as well-laid plans are crucial to the project’s success, and ends with applause and cheers when everyone attends a celebratory unveiling. For years to come, children, parents, teachers and community members will recall their own contribution to a group creation, and the school is forever visually enriched by their efforts.

Tile Mural Residency Process

  • Selection of theme:
    Neighborhoods and communities, the environment, diversity and peace—these themes, among others, have been featured in past murals. Groups are encouraged to choose a theme that spans age groups and grade levels, addresses educational standards, and creates community support. Sawyer School in Sturgeon Bay, WI chose to make a mural depicting and honoring Westside School, from which many of Sawyer’s students had just transferred due the closure of Westside School.
  • Brainstorming of elements to be depicted in the mural:
    Artists and teachers lead sessions to elicit students’ ideas. During the brainstorming at Shady Lane School, Jeanne asked students, “What is wonderful about your world that should be included in our mural?”
  • Field trips and research:
    On-site visits and sketching, along with classroom studies, will enhance the students’ creative efforts and overall learning. Students at Gibraltar Middle School visited Kangaroo Lake, the Mink River Estuary and Peninsula State Park to learn about local water resources—integrating their arts project with the water studies of their science curriculum.
  • Large and small group drawing sessions:
    Artist-led sessions help students capture their ideas. Brainstorming, along with photos from field trips, magazines, books and other sources provide inspiration for the hundreds of drawings that will contribute to the mural’s design. Jeanne challenged Gibraltar Elementary students to draw what they saw in their mind’s eye when they heard the word “peace.” At Lannon Elementary School, 300 students created more than 1000 drawings in two days.
  • Review of drawings
    Working with a core group of students and the art teacher, the artists review drawings and the mural design begins to emerge. Efforts are made to include the work of as many students as possible by enlarging small drawings, isolating unique elements of larger scenes, and creating a border of stand-along tiles. Each mural is distinctive and unique as it represents the efforts and themes of the children and adults of that community.
  • Grid and tile prep
    Working with Jeanne, students and volunteers create a life-size grid onto which the mural design is transferred, while David uses a slab-roller to make the tiles.
  • Making the tiles
    Students learn clay techniques from the artists in a session called Shaking Hands with Clay, and use the techniques to transform their paper and pencil drawings into two-dimensional tiles. Parents and other community members are recruited to make their own tiles, and to help younger students with the tricky painting process.
  • Bisque-firing; sanding, waxing, glazing; final high firing
    School personnel fire tiles on-site, with students and volunteers aiding with sanding, waxing, and glazing.
  • Installation
    A professional tile installer is hired (or recruited as a volunteer from your community) to mount the mural at the school.
  • Evaluate & Celebrate
    A crucial final step! Evaluation provides teachers, administrators and project funders with the information needed to determine the success of the residency and support future projects. The unveiling provides a unique opportunity for students, staff and community to celebrate the totality of the residency, from their joy in the collaborative process to their pride in the finished product.

Tile Mural & Other School Residencies

NOTE: Community members and teachers played key roles and worked side by side as volunteers with students in creating these murals.

2006 St. Roman’s Parish School, Milwaukee, WI.
7.5’ x 12.5’, 320 students
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm

2005 Aldo Leopold Elementary School, Green Bay, WI
8’ x 12’, 400 students
The Web of Life

2005 Westwood School, DePere, WI
Self-Portraits in clay with grades 3-5

2004 Gibraltar Middle School, Fish Creek, WI
6’ x 12’, 200 students
Wild About Water

2003 Westwood Elementary School, DePere, WI
10’ x 10’, 650 students
Visions of America

2002 Lannon Elementary School, Lannon, WI
7’ x 12’, 260 students
From Stories in Stone to Wings of Wonder

2001 Highlands Elementary School, Appleton, WI
7’ x 11’, 350 students
One Universe of Different Minds, Learning Together

2001 Red Smith Elementary School, Green Bay, WI
7’ x 15’, 300 students
Above and Below the Bay, Night and Day

1998 Sunrise Elementary School, Sturgeon Bay, WI
7’ x 11’, 300 students
Celebrate Sunrise in Door County

1998 Shady Lane Elementary School, Menomonee Falls, WI
7’ x 15’, 350 students
Our Wonderful World (view)
AWARD REGOGNITION from the Wisconsin and National PTA

1997 Sawyer Elementary School, Sturgeon Bay, WI
4’ x 12’, 300 students
The View of Westside School

1997 Gibraltar Elementary School, Fish Creek, WI
7’ x 15’, 300 students
Visions of Peace (view)

1996 Sevastopol Elementary School, Institute, WI
7’ x 15’, 310 students
The Four Seasons of Door County

1996 Sunset Elementary School, Sturgeon Bay, WI
7’ x 11’, 300 students
Animal Habitats of Door County

1994 Lake Bluff Elementary School, Shorewood, WI
7’ x 22’, 627 students
Nature and the Neighborhood

Residency Expenses

  • Artist Fees
  • Travel & Lodging
  • Lunches (Per diem or donated)
  • Clay, Glazes and other supplies
  • Installation Funding
    • School and department budgets
    • State Arts Agency Artist-in-Education Grant (Artists can assist with narrative questions based on previous residency grants)
    • Corporate Sponsor
    • Business & Community Donations

Clay Bay Pottery • 11650 Hwy. 42 • Ellison Bay, WI. 54210 • 920.854.5027