Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:20 AM
Photo by Marketa Ebert. Kiesha Carroll, Cheryl Foster, Aaron Davis and Philip Jones, III, work on the mural for the new Northview Firehouse in Bowie.
Published on: Wednesday, September 23, 2009
By Brian Hooks
A new fire and EMS station will open in October to at least five smiling faces, thanks to a local artist and a Prince George’s County Arts in Public Places commission. After six months of studio work, a 170 square-foot stained glass tile and mirror mosaic was finished this week by Cheryl Foster and her team of local artists and volunteers.
“I’m addicted to the attention,” said Foster, a self-proclaimed public artist with two decades of experience. “When people drive by, smile and holler ‘Right on!’ – that’s what I live for,” said Foster.
The mosaic is a colorful wall consisting of thousands of glass tiles in many shapes and sizes. Four of the faces depict “reflections of Bowie” and its diverse communities, according to Foster.
Photo by Marketa Ebert. Artist Cheryl Foster poses with her sketch of the mural.
The fifth face is of Hayley Yeager, a student artist from Rockledge Elementary School in Bowie. Foster said she adores Yeager, “That girl can draw me under the table – and over the table for that matter.”
Blue fused-glass disks in the background depict different aspects of Bowie and Prince George’s County, from the Bowie University bulldog to the local Triple Crown horses, Gallant Fox and Omaha.
Kiesha Carroll, 37, a Bowie artist, helped Foster transport the Mosaic from a studio to the station. Philip Jones III, 21, and Aaron Davis, 20, both students at Prince George’s Community College, also worked on piecing the mosaic back together since last Monday. A few helping hands even came from across the street, volunteers from the Bowie Senior Center.
The project was a $34,000 commission from the county, and Foster’s design earned the selection after three finalists were chosen from more than 100 designs from artists and architects. A Project Advisory Committee of firefighters, artists and other community members helped to narrow the focus of the project. “They wanted this facility in their community to be inviting,” said Foster.
Prince George’s County Arts in Public Places is a program set up by the county in 1988 that seeks to invest in quality artwork that enhances the aesthetic scenery of publicly funded facilities. A seven-person panel of county officials, citizens, an artist and a park planning representative approve the decisions made by the project’s advisory committee.
Lauren Dugas Glover, executive director of the program, has also overseen about 20 projects in libraries, courthouses and other fire stations all over the county. Nearly $1 million in commissions have been put toward incorporating art into public facilities since Glover began heading the project in 2001.
“Each project is unique to the community impacted,” Glover said. She said, each advisory committee is unique to each project, “to get the real flavor of what the people in the community want.”
Funding for the projects is incorporated into the cost of construction, Glover said. One percent of construction is dedicated to the art commissions.
This is not Foster’s first time making massive mosaics, the Howard University grad is able to return to the glass medium because she refuses the label of “studio” artist. “Sometimes I wish I could create some more personal pieces, but that’s what you sacrifice when you get into public art,” Foster said.
When asked about how she draws inspiration for her artwork, Foster said the first step comes from the community, “I start by listening to the descriptive words [of the citizens], and then draw up images from those descriptions.”
Foster’s art can also be seen at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Largo Town Center and even as far as Charlotte, N.C. For more of Foster’s art visit /www.cherylfostersart.com/. For more about the Prince George’s County Arts in Public Places visit /www.co.pg.md.us/.
Posted By: DEvans On: 9/13/2013
The PG County "Arts in Public Places" is an effort that casts a warm cloud of visual beauty at select locations. Artist Foster's mosaic work attests to that effort. Given the labor intensity of making large mosaics and Foster's proven ability to create a work of beauty and meaning, it would seem appropriate to say that she and team should be publicly recognized and awarded by the Arts and Humanities Council.