Jamiel’s Park in downtown Warren will be getting a lot more colorful, thanks to summer campers and the town’s art community.
Local artist Ellen Blomgren, a Bristol native and the owner of Warren’s Mudstone Studios, worked with 150 summer campers, ages 5 through 16, throughout the eight-week program to create tiles depicting town life. The tiles, which were created in the basement of Mary V Quirk School, will soon be adhered to a substructure and placed in Jamiel’s Park. Each tile is part of a large panel, and there are four total panels.
“There’s a sign to go in the park and a sign to go out, and we did both sides of each,” says Ellen. “So at each entrance, there will be one double-sided sign.” The bike path acts as the focal point for one of the panels. The tiles show kids riding bikes and skateboarding. There’s even a rollerblader with headphones on. “They’re adorable,” Ellen says. “I love them.”
A lot of layers were involved in the process. Each tile has a textured background – some with flower stamps and others with water waves. Once the artwork was set, Ellen transported the pieces to her studio, where she fired them and brought them back to the kids for glazing. A second firing was done after that.
Along with Ellen and the town of Warren, the project wouldn’t have been possible without the Imago Foundation for the Arts, which came up with the idea to integrate art into a local public space, and the Rhode Island Foundation, which funded the installation with the help of its $15,000 Centennial Community Grant.
“We put the installation out at the Imago Gallery so that people could see it because we weren’t exactly sure when it was getting installed,” said Ellen. “And we invited all the kids there.”
The artists also saw their masterpieces come to life during the talent show at the end of summer camp, where one of the panels was brought out. “Everybody that goes to Jamiel’s Park is playing sports or enjoying the outdoors,” said Ellen. “This project has all these really fun aspects of that. I think the kids, as they grow up, will be like, ‘Hey, I made that when I was seven!’ And maybe their kids will see it, you know? It should be there for many, many years.”