The public art school committee selected Asheville Stone Mason Mark Archambault of Hammerhead Stoneworks to complete 5 projects for 5 new schools in Norfolk, Virginia. This additional mosaic was commissioned by the public art program to replace an aged Robert Wyland mural at Ocean View Elementary school. “Birds of Every Feather” depicts an old oak tree that once stood in front of the school. Birds represent the beauty of the natural world and diversity. Marc chose birds commonly seen in Norfolk such as blue jays, mourning doves and some that you may rarely see like kestrels and whip-poor-wills.
Mark Archambault installed this natural stone mosaic July 10 & 11, 2018.
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Archambault describes the mosaic as a play on textures “shiny and smooth versus rough and natural. The mosaic is created from natural stone, with the exception of glass marbles that make up the eyes. The birds are composed of different types of polished stone tiles. The background and tree branch are unpolished quarry stones from Tennessee and Pennsylvania.”
Archambault describes where he gets his ideas: “My younger son, who is nine, is big into birds. Many of my sketches and color selections for this piece were inspired by his books. I like the interplay of all colors. Many of the birds were chosen because they are local, yet vibrant. The Painted Bunting in the top left corner looks like he gets dressed in the dark. He is a riot of red, blue and green. The first time I actually saw one, I thought it was an escaped parrot.“
The artist has a personal connection with many of the birds featured in the mosaic. “I included robins, blue jays, cardinals and other birds I hope the kids are familiar with. I also added some that can be found in the area, but are less commonly seen, such as the painted bunting and the goldfinch.”
Archambault grew up surrounded and inspired by nature. He hopes to share this appreciation and fascination not only with his own children, but also with the students at Ocean View Elementary School.
Initially, he called this mosaic Birds of a Feather. Archambault says that title implies “flock together,”and insinuates that all the birds should be of the same species. “I wanted to celebrate the variety and individuality of the birds as a reflection of the children in the school, and in the wider community that teaches and sustains them. An ecological system is healthiest when there is greater diversity, much like our society.”
Karen Rudd, manager, Norfolk Arts, the Public Art Program, says the “Public Art Program is pleased to present this new mosaic that humanizes and invigorates the elementary school, helping to make it a unique place where creativity is encouraged. We hope the community will identify with and come to love Birds of Every Feather as a distinct part of Ocean View’s evolving culture.”
Ocean View Elementary School Principal James S. Peterson believes “the mosaic captures the diversity of the school, our community and the City of Norfolk.” Dr. Peterson says the mosaic is the “school’s focal point and makes a great first impression. It is way for school children to learn about our local bird population and identify with the birds. And always, it’s a celebration of public art for our city.”