The Unity Wall

......The concept behind the Unity Wall Project is to realize a series of clay tile installations throughout Montclair that will be a visual testament celebrating the notion that unity can exist within diversity, that we are all connected to each other and to the earth, and that the contribution each of us makes is integral to the whole. This public art project will nurture the collaborative spirit and will thrive on the participation of our diverse community.

......My vision for the wall resulted from the intensifying cultural, social, and political divisions that I feel are taking place in our country and around the world. Each day through the media, we witness acts of intolerance, hatred, and racial and ethnic violence, deepening and widening our sense of alienation. I believe that it is important to address these issues while not losing sight of what is positive and to embrace our common ground.

......The process will begin by going into schools and community centers with a trained facilitator and initiating a dialogue about the concept of unity and how one personally connects to other human beings as well as to the earth. Using specific questions and ensuing discussions as a point of departure and source of inspiration, each participant will create a clay tile that visually expresses a personal concept of unity and connectedness. Participants will learn the necessary techniques to enable them to express their ideas with the wet clay. Color will be added using underglazes. Once the tiles are fired at my studio, they will be installed at an agreed upon location, interior or exterior. The vision for this project is that there could be pieces of the Unity Wall all over Montclair, in schools, parks, community centers, and houses of worship.

......My facilitators are Bonnie Cushing, Claire Ciliotta, Janet Taylor Pickett, and Beth Sandweiss who have worked with me to develop and present the initial discussion. I am also working with Dana Calbi, who teaches at Mt Hebron. She is my curriculum consultant and school liaison. Monica Litvany is my technical adviser. Her specialty is teaching tile making and she has completed many tile installations. Joanne Aidala, who created the Health and Wellness initiative, will aid in fundraising.

......We have received two MFEE grants to work with over one hundred students at Montclair High as well as Mount Hebron. At the high school we will be doing an exterior installation of the tiles over the retaining wall in the courtyard behind the amphitheater. For Mount Hebron, we will create 10 panels that will be temporarily installed in the cafeteria with the potential to be incorporated into a wall in a more public space. I am working with the PTA and have asked that they sponsor at least one class from each school to participate. I will be enlisting volunteers from high school ceramics programs. I have also submitted a proposal to have the Unity Wall Project be incorporated into the final design for the proposed community center at the Clary Anderson Arena.

......I have a BFA from SUNY Purchase and a Masters from NYU in Art Education. I have owned and operated The Clay Studio in Montclair since 1991 where I teach classes for children and adults. I have widely exhibited my art over the last 15 years. Most recently I completed the memorial bench at Montclair High School for Tony Anastasapoulus.

For a more in depth explanation of the project and resumes of collaborators, please go to my website and follow the link to the Unity Wall Project.

Elizabeth Jacobs
71 Myrtle Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042

973 744-2708