There are now some large, colorful butterflies on the south exterior wall at Hollywood School in Brookfield. And they’re not going anywhere, because they are made from mosaic tile.
The mosaic tile butterflies, as well as a caterpillar, chrysalis and prairie plants are the result of a joint project of artist Danielle Casali and Hollywood School students.
Casali, a St. Charles resident who was a friend of Hollywood School art teacher Ellen Valaisa at Elmhurst College, was brought to Hollywood School last spring as part of an artist-in-residence project funded by the Hollywood School PTA.
“Mosaic murals are my passion,” said Casali whose work has been exhibited at Elmhurst College, Northern Illinois University and throughout the Fox Valley.
Hollywood School Principal Kim Hefner, who has done some stained-glass work herself, and the PTA decided that they would like a mural to complement the Monarch butterfly garden that was planted at the school a couple of years ago.
“They already knew they wanted a mural before they brought me in,” Casali said. “We were paying homage [to the butterfly garden], or accentuating that, with the space. We knew going in we wanted butterflies, definitely a monarch, and then the monarch lifecycle.”
The mosaic mural butterflies overlook the butterfly garden and its free-standing sculpture, also crusted with tile shards, and installed in 2010. On a side wall is a representation of the lifecycle of a butterfly. The mosaics are made out of stained glass, Venetian glass tiles, ceramic tiles, and glass from broken mirrors.
Casali came to Hollywood School once a week last spring for about two months, working with students to design and create the mural. She designed the elements herself and she drew an outline on butcher paper to show students where to place the tiles.
“I basically designed everything to be like a color-by-number, so when they came in I would tell them what tile to use where, in what color, and they would come in and place the tiles down,” Casali said.
Fourth- and fifth-graders learned to cut glass and tile and shape the pieces using tools called nippers and scorers while all students placed the tiles.
“The fifth-graders actually learned how to use the cutting tools,” Casali said. “They would actually score and cut stained glass. They had a lot of fun with it.”
Fifth-grader Charlotte Textrum was at Hollywood School on Oct. 19 for the final installation and helped place the last few remaining tiles on some of the pieces. She said that she enjoyed working on the project, and she liked the way it turned out.
“It was fun,” Textrum said, noting that she worked on the green butterfly. “They look really good.”
The mosaic tiles were mounted on the brick Hollywood School south exterior wall last week with the help of Hollywood parent Luis Gonzalez, who works in construction and Gonzalez’s friend, Jorge Barragon.
Mounting the mosaics on the wall was no easy task as the art pieces were as large as 5-by-4 feet and weighed from between 30 and 50 pounds each. The mosaics were mounted on cement boards and attached to the wall with an exterior construction adhesive and tap-on screws.
The mosaics are meant to be a permanent, or at least long-lasting, addition to Hollywood School.
“The kids will come home from college, or wherever they go to, and they’ll be able to drive by and say, ‘I did that,'” Hefner said.