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Project Insight Students Create Public Art

Project Insight student Raetta Parker of Rushville said she learned something new from working with Macomb-based artist Kelley Quinn.

“No matter how difficult it looks, if you stick with it anything is possible,” Parker said.

Parker and the 51 other students at Project Insight spent a couple days a week for roughly two months this spring working with Quinn on a mosaic. It's made up of colorful pieces of broken dishes along with pieces of broken mirrors. The bits and pieces were put together to create a mandala.

“It's geometrical. It's balanced on all sides and it has a center, a middle ground, and an edge,” Quinn said of mandalas.

“The actual process of looking at it, your eyes go through a certain pattern and it promotes calmness and meditation.”

It could be considered a fitting piece of art for Project Insight. The school in Macomb serves junior and senior high school students from around the region who have behavioral problems.

While the finished product is supposed to promote calmness, Parker said the making of it also created a more mellow mood.

“What I loved the most about it is that everyone worked together. Everyone helped you. It wasn't a fighting thing to get done,” she said.

Staff member Tommy Parker saw the same thing.

“It brought everybody really close together. Sharing ideas and the labor,” Parker said. “Watching it come to fruition was pretty impressive, it really was.”

Quinn said she was honored to work with the students. She believes they are talented though they don't always realize what they have to offer.

Quinn said much of the funding for the piece came from the Illinois Arts Council. In addition, she regularly receives donations of broken or unwanted dishes that can be smashed and used in her artwork.

The main section of the Project Insight mandala measures eight feet by eight feet.  That is surrounded by a border comprised of 36 smaller mandalas created by individual students.  

The mandala is now a piece of public art. It's mounted on the north wall of Project Insight along West Adams Street.


Rich is TSPR's News Director.