Prime Time Seniors contribute to a new mosaic for East Lansing

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Kelly Arndt, Prime Time Senior Center Director, speaking at the school board meeting about the mosaic.

By Gabriella Galloway
Entirely East Lansing

Prime Time Seniors from the Hannah Community Center joined forces with East Lansing middle schoolers and special education students to create an intergenerational mosaic.

The mosaic is a part of the Artist Alley for East Lansing and is expected to be displayed in spring of 2016 in the Division Street alley. Grove Street will be home to other artwork done by professional artists.

Director of Prime Time Seniors, Kelly Arndt, began working with intergenerational art five years ago with the high school and wanted to get the middle schools involved and saw this mosaic as a good opportunity to do so.

“It helps the community members come together and it models what civic engagement is all about,” said Arndt. “We are helping to raise good citizens and part of that is modeling what that means.”

The idea for the mosaic was launched back in September and they had to raise the funds to turn this idea into a reality.

The 15 foot by 3 foot work of art has received funding of $47,285 from the public and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation matched that with $45,000. This funding will cover the art, furnishings and landscaping for the two different locations.

For those who contributed to the funding of this project, gifts made by the seniors will be given out once the mosaic is displayed.

Arndt said that they hope to have the mosaic completed by the end of May and have an event to reveal the work. The mosaic is all made from stain glass and worked on twice a week at the Hannah Community Center and MacDonald Middle School.

“You don’t have to be talented in art,” said Amanda Moran, who has eight of her special education students working on the piece.

“The students are very excited to see something they have done be displayed,” said Moran.

Jean Brisbo, a senior working on the project with the Donely middle schoolers said her favorite aspect of being involved in this project is working with the students.

“They are very talented kids and just really enjoying seeing this piece of art come to life in front of their eyes,” said Brisbo.

According to Brisbo, they began the project by going over safety precautions with the students to assure they wore their safety goggles and didn’t run their fingers up the cut glass.

Following the safety overview, the seniors taught the kids how to shape and work with the stain glass. The glass was already cut in strips and categorized by section of the mosaic by the seniors.

Brisbo said the shapes and outlines of the design were already traced on the board where they are placing the glass, therefore it made it easy for the students to see where to place the glass.

“They have done some things that we would not have thought of,” said Brisbo. “They are putting their own stamp on it.”

The challenge Brisbo acknowledged is the fact that the mosaic is in three separate pieces split up with the students and seniors. They want to ensure the mosaic is cohesive so they need to make sure the separate groups are cutting the glass in similar shapes and sizes, said Brisbo.

Joan Alam is another senior working on the project and was on the advisory committee when the mosaic was first being discussed.

“I think the involvement is very important and the fact that it is intergenerational is incredible,” said Alam.

Alam, a former teacher, loves working with the children and spoke highly of the leadership on this project.

The mosaic is going to represent the city of East Lansing and have buildings and parts of the city that will be recognizable to those who look at it, said Alam.

Brisbo said they have been working to blend the morning sky into the night sky. The stars will glow at night as well as the moon which serves as the sun during the day.

“When you retire you still have skills that you can put to work,” said Alam. “This is a way of giving back to the community and working with younger people, it’s a true learning process.”

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