Artist and students create mosaic | News, Sports, Work

Sentinel Photo by SIERRA BOLGER
Mifflin County High School students Maddox Gentzel (left), Eric Gertzen (center) and Devin Larson help artist Linda Billet put together the third and final piece of their mosaic project.

LEWISTOWN — Students had the opportunity to learn how to create abstract patterns using mosaic tiles to create a mural that will permanently hang in the TIU 11 offices in the Pa CareerLink Mifflin County building.

The project is part of Tuscarora Intermediate School’s Project YES summer camp and the Perry County Council of the Arts residency program, directed by glass artist Linda Billet

June 17-27.

“Projects like these teach children to cooperate and think outside the box” said Billet. “I think it’s empowering for them when it’s all over and they see what they’ve accomplished.”

The residency is supported by funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts through its Arts in Education program. The Perry County Council of the Arts is the local partner that organizes and oversees the residency.

Sentinel Photo by SIERRA BOLGER
The photo shows the finished mosaic.

To create his works, Billet combines glass to create mosaic tiles. Glass combining is the process of taking compatible glass, stacking it to create a pattern or design, then firing it in a kiln until it melts.

“I hope students will see the benefits of getting involved and spending time doing something worthwhile” said Billet. “I want them to see that things of value often require patience and perseverance.”

Billet’s greatest love is being in her own workshop, using the tools she has collected over the years, working with her hands. In 2011, she began sharing her love of glass through a residency.

“I like that my job is never boring. Each project is completely unique and has its own rewards and challenges” said Billet.

Much like she combined mosaic and fusing, she works on projects with a large enough budget to combine her own glass skills with her residency work. In the past, she has led groups of 30 people with little or no glass experience to create mosaics they can be proud of. Her goal is always to surpass the last project.

“I do these projects because I really enjoy them. If I win the lottery, I will continue to do community mosaics” she said.

Through artist residencies, the program enables artists to help others discover and develop their creativity and artistic skills in a variety of educational, social and institutional environments.

Project YES is a voluntary program for high school students who are at risk for behaviors that interfere with success. Risk factors identified include academic issues, attendance issues, behavioral issues, and/or overall adjustment issues to high school. Referrals are accepted from any school staff, community agency/organization, or interested community member. Once enrolled, Project YES offers a wide range of activities, including summer camp.

The intensive summer program is offered to provide students enrolled in camp with fun and educational opportunities throughout the summer. Students who attend camp have received Project YES school services or are fifth graders moving into sixth grade and have been referred by a guidance counselor.

For the rest of the summer, camp will focus on a new theme each week: Young Scientist Camp, 4-H Camp, TIU STEM Camp, an agriculture awareness camp with a visit to Love Two Farm, an agritourism center; and a field trip to a Harrisburg Senators game and Lake Tobias.

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