by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The lead artist on the Language Garden Tile Mural project, Teresa Tamiyasu, shows Grout Elementary students where the tiles they decorated have been installed.“We just finished it up last night,” said Teresa Tamiyasu, lead artist of the “Language Garden Tile Mural” project – begun in 2009, and now finally completed at Grout Elementary School, on S.E. Holgate Boulevard.

“The reason we created this was to celebrate our garden’s rejuvenation, and to make an outdoor classroom and the patio area,” Tamiyasu told THE BEE on June 5, during the festivities. “And, we wanted to celebrate the diversity of our school population.”

The whimsical mural, with the sun on one side and the moon on the other, depicts an imaginative landscape, and incorporates the languages that many Grout children speak or hear at home.

The sun mosaic, visible to the public from S.E. 31st Avenue, is made of tiles inscribed with the word “sun” in English, Spanish, Maay-Maay, Karen, Vietnamese, Russian, Somali, Cambodian, Nepali, Swahili, Burmese, Albanian, Oromo, Amharic, Cantonese, Japanese, Lao, Telugu, Thai, French, Malayalam, Ichishkiin, Hawaiian, and Swiss German.

Grout students in all grades inscribed and decorated the tiles before they were fired, Tamiyasu pointed out.

“We think it’s super special, and really unique,” smiled Tamiyasu. “It’s important, because it ‘tells the whole world’ what an amazing school Grout is, with students who come here from all corners of the earth.”

Two cash grants, and contributions from thirteen organizations and companies, supported the project. “We want to thank the teachers, and Mrs. McElroy the Principal, for letting us go hog-wild with this. We really appreciate it; and I think the students and community will as well.”

For more on the Language Garden Tile Mural, go online:

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