Building community, one tile at a time
There’s a big empty space on the wall in the lobby of the Robert Trail Library. In that space, members of the community saw two opportunities. The first is to fill the space with a piece of public art. The second is to engage the members of Rosemount in a community project. And hence the idea for One Tile, One Rosemount was born.
“Beyond filling the gaping hole at the library, we think it provides the vehicle to promote community unity,” said Rosemount Area Arts Council President Jeanne Schwartz, of the community art project.
RAAC has partnered with the Robert Trail Library, Friends of the Robert Trail Library and First State Bank of Rosemount to make the project happen. RAAC will lead the project.
To start the process, RAAC commissioned artist Carly Schmitt to create the collaborative art project. Schmitt led a similar art project in Vadnais Heights with the Make Your Mark campaign in 2011. Schwartz said Schmitt’s background with this type of project and her abilities as an artist made her the perfect fit.
RAAC member John Loch said Schmitt created four images to select from and an image of a river bend, called “Journey,” was chosen. Loch said they found the river bend image most appropriate because Rosemount borders the Mississippi River.
Specifically, Loch said the painting is reminiscent of what Rosemount’s first settlers would have seen when they arrived by boat and landed at Pine Bend, which is now part of Rosemount. He said settlers originally settled there and then gradually journeyed westward to the present site of Rosemount.
As part of the Rosemount project, members of the community will personalize 9,500 1 x 1 inch tiles that will come together to create a mural. Members of the community will be invited through a series of events to embellish the individual tiles with a similar colored paint.
Loch said up close you can see the individual contributions but from afar the tiles blend into the larger image. According to Schmitt’s website the concept mirrors an individual’s place in the community and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The embellishments can be as simple as a few letters or more elaborate.
“People’s imaginations are boundless,” said Loch.
Because of the large amount of tiles, Loch said a guide will be put together so residents will be able to find their individual tile. The groups are still working out the details on how that will be accomplished.
Loch currently is the proud owner of 10,000 tiles. In the coming months he and some friends will prime the tiles in preparation. MRCI WorkSource, which employs people with disabilities, has been hired to paint the tiles.
Starting June 23, Rosemount residents will have the opportunity to personalize the tiles. Loch said a kickoff event will be held the first day of Art Blast, a community art festival hosted by RAAC. The festival will run June 23-28.
There will be tile signing parties throughout the summer until all 9,500 tiles are personalized, said Schwartz.
“Stay tuned. There will be lots of opportunities,” she added.
By participating, Schwartz said, community members will have the chance to leave their mark, literally, on the community. Schwartz hopes people will join in the fun and personalize a tile.
As Rosemount experiences growth, Schwartz said it becomes more difficult to foster a sense of community. Through this project, Schwartz hopes to engage new and old residents of every age and background.
“We want to help people feel like they belong here,” said Schwartz.
One Tile, One Rosemount will cost about $24,000. Loch said First State Bank of Rosemount, RAAC and the Friends of Robert Trail Library have all chipped in to make the project possible. Additionally, RAAC has applied for several grants.
The lion’s share of the cost, though, will be raised through free will donations, though. There will be no charge to personalize a tile, but Schwartz said they will accept donations at each of the events. She said they hope people will be generous if they can be.
Loch said he is also soliciting sponsors who might be willing to support the project. For more information call John Loch at 952-255-8545.