J.D. FLOYD K-8 students in Kevin McManus' sixth-grade geography classes take turns assembling mosaics that are used to enhance their campus when they are finished. McManus has been combining art with geography for years with mosaic building. This year's project is called Pop Art II.
"We're doing four artists," he said. "One Picasso, one Joan Miro, Autumn Denton and Niklaus Troxler."
By "doing" he means following a four-step process: taking a photo of a painting, creating a transparency, projecting it onto a concrete board and having student artists trace it.
Once the image is on the board, it is labeled by color and is ready for the mosaic pieces. McManus has provided broken tiles separated into colors for past mosaics, but recently he has changed to stained glass. He gets it in sheets and cuts them into linear or random pieces.
When the glass has been cut, he puts it into plastic tubs in which the pieces are shaken to dull the edges. The students then take turns placing the pieces onto the board. Then they are glued into place.
The results are remarkable reproductions that are displayed around the campus. One is already on display. The students are working on the second.
This seems like an art project, but McManus can tie it into the subject he teaches. "Geography studies culture all the time and part of that is art," he said. "And it ties into the campus plan of beautification." The mosaics, he said, help give the students ownership of their campus.
"Every child gets to work on it," McManus said. "At the end, nobody gets to say, 'I didn't do it.' "
The mosaic building is funded by a Hernando County Education Foundation minigrant.
"They've been great for us," McManus said.
The project also has support from the School Advisory Council.
Leanna Pascarella, 13, and Alyssa Moore, 12, are two of McManus' sixth-graders. "I think it's really good that we're able to do this in school and get the chance to use the different materials," said Leanna.
"Before," said Alyssa, "our school didn't have a lot of theme to it and this makes it look more creative."