The Corrales Community Library unveiled a clay children’s mural for the Storybook Garden on Saturday, July 8.
The mural was created by children in the community who learned ceramics from local artists. The Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners also assisted with the project, which was overseen by Master Gardener Sam Thompson and tile artist Maggie Robinson.
Robinson is a retired art teacher who had the idea to create the mural. She said that she has taught at several different schools across the country and has always created murals there because she feels it gives the students an opportunity to view their art as more than just an individual piece.
“We recognize that we are part of the community. We’re part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Robinson.
She said that the head of the Corrales Society of Artists, Jenn Noel, sent an email to the registered artists welcoming suggestions for community projects. She replied to the email with her idea, which Noel accepted. The garden at the library was created by the Sandoval County Master Gardeners under the leadership of Thompson, who also welcomed Robinson’s idea.
“Everything just fell into place,” Robinson said.
Jackie Freeman, a teacher at Corrales Elementary School, opened her classroom for two fifth-grade classes to participate in the mural. Robinson and other artists taught the students how to make a drawing and transfer it into a clay image.
The original theme of the mural was children’s literature, and students were invited to create art from their imagination or from books that they had read. Slowly, though, this idea morphed into an overall New Mexican theme after the group organized an event in May where all community members were invited to create a tile to contribute to the mural.
Robinson said that 80-100 people attended the event, and the community and kids enjoyed the art of working with clay.
“It’s enticing. It totally encaptivates your attention and you become engrossed in it, and you want it to be full of meaning,” Robinson said.
The community was then invited to the unveiling of the mural earlier this month. Robinson compared the beauty of music and performing arts to the beauty of unveiling a community mural of this size. Robinson talked about the phenomenon that occurs in performing arts where the public experiences an artistic moment together. She said that unveiling a mural comes close to that phenomenon in the world of visual arts.
“You get the whole community behind, looking, and realizing, and seeing the totality,” said Robinson. “You get that gasp of wonder and joy and excitement.”
“It always happens. To me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile,” said Robinson. “It’s a magic moment of people seeing community for what it is.”
Also involved in making the project happen were Corrales MainStreet, Hanselmann Pottery, Coyote Clay, The Tile shop, Esme Villalon, Robinson’s granddaughter who contributed to creating and unveiling the mural, metalsmith Jeff Burrows and Corrales Community Library Director Marian Frear.
Frear said that the Master Gardeners have been working for years on the garden where the mural was placed.
“We’ve just been adding more and more art, and the garden is doing really well,” said Frear. “The idea was that we wanted to have a place where we could teach kids about how to grow food, and it turned into a big collaborative project.”
Other contributors of the garden include mosaic artist Lisa Domenici, who created a sundial in the garden as a tribute to the late Lloyd Hurley, and a tile artist at Red Dog Planters named Teale Adelmann, who created a barn quilt in the garden that depicts the four seasons.
Former Corrales Society of Artists president Ken Duckert expressed the work that has gone into creating an arts community in Corrales.
“The Corrales Society of Artists has wanted to find ways to collaborate with the Rio Rancho art community for a long time, but distractions prevented that from happening sooner,” Duckert said.
He spoke at the Rio Rancho Art Association last month, and there has been progress in collaboration between the Corrales and Rio Rancho art communities. He plans to speak to the Rio Rancho Arts Commission in the near future to discuss the idea further.
Robinson added that murals like these create a historic element within the community.
“Five years from now, these young artists will look at their work, and just say, ‘That was me five years ago, and that was community five years ago.’ It’s pretty cool,” Robinson said.