PURPOSE: Deepen Community Relationships by creating a public mosaic together.

MAJOR TAKEAWAY: Overcoming language barrier with the use of visual language and modeling Handwork.

January 2012 - Salatiga, Indonesia

My friends moved to Indonesia to work as teachers in an International Christian School. They desired to develop more relationships in their rural, densely populated community and thought that doing an art project together would provide them this opportunity. They asked me to come to create a mosaic with them inviting their neighbors into the process.

Drawing Party

The wall faced an intersection busy with pedestrian and motorbike traffic. My friends wanted to have the mosaic represent the beauty of life in Indonesia. We began by hosting a drawing party to gather together kids from the community. We asked them to draw and color their favorite thing about their home and/or Indonesia.

I used their images to create the design for the mosaic.

The day we began my friends hung a tarp to protect the work and the laborers from the hot sun and the rain which falls once a day during this season. This drew attention to the project and the neighbors began to gather. Two girls came with their own bag of broken tiles to contribute that they had gathered as tile is a widely used finish in many houses because of the humidity.

Mosaics were a new experience for everyone who came to work. My challenge was to provide as many points of simultaneous access to participate in the project as well as uphold the quality of the work both for aesthetics as well as for the mosaic to be lasting. I communicated to the children and their parents through the translation of my friends as well as modeling tasks for them.

I have discovered by doing creative cross-cultural work the universality of visual language and hand work. Through modeling action and utilizing drawing and references to color, I was able to teach the group how to break the tile to the proper size, create frames for each of the image sections, and eventually use the tile to create the images themselves. 

The children had no hesitation to contribute to the work. I had the them work in pairs and then teach the next pair who would take their place how to tile the wall. Their biggest challenge was to surrender their spot on the wall to make room of others to work. My friends provided snacks and juice for those parents who were watching and the children who were waiting their turn. This created more opportunity to accomplish the greater goal of this project: building relationships.

Finished Project with my friends and their neighbors

The final product was something that the entire community was proud of.