The Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) officially unveiled the Glade Drive pedestrian tunnel public art project on Wednesday, and, as always, the kids stole the show.
One by one, student artists approached the microphone expressing pride and gratitude in seeing their work on public display.
"It is very rare that kids are given a chance to do something so creative that will last for so long and be part of the community," said Noah Taylor, 10, a current Hunters Woods fifth grader said.
Let's face it, said Noah, the underpass was "bare, bleak and drab before we livened it up."
Noah and 34 of his Hunters Woods classmates worked with professional artist Valerie Theberge in creating the permanent glass mosaic. Last spring, Theberge spent six weeks mentoring the young artists as they created their own star-shaped mosaics, using small, smooth-edged cubes of colored glass called "tesserae." Theberge then incorporated the students' work into her larger piece.
The project was sponsored by IPAR and partners included Reston Association, Reston Community Center and Hunters Woods Elementary School and its PTA.
Said student artist Verun Iyengar: "What an opportunity—and this will be here for 50 years maybe!
"The Glade Drive pedestrian tunnel sits at the intersection of Colts Neck Road and Glade Drive. There is access via a footpath.
IPAR , a group of civic leaders who represent Reston's key community organizations, was founded in 2005 and is devoted to placing public art throughout Reston.
In 2008, IPAR consulted the Reston community through public forums, round tables and an on-line public art survey to craft a Reston Public Art Master Plan, which was formally adopted in December 2008. The Glade tunnel underpass is its first project.
IPAR chose Theberge as the artist in a nationwide search. Her works are found in Arlington and Prince George's counties, Washington, D.C. She had worked on visually powerful public art projects in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, India, and Pakistan.
An important component of the Reston public art master plan is artist engagement with students and the surrounding community groups.
"I chose the colors but they did the work," Theberge said. " It was six weeks, once a week, of extreme precision, a lot of technique. It was a pleasure [working with the students]."
Added Joe Ritchey, chair of IPAR: "What makes this so special is that it's all Reston."
Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, in congratulating the students, and partners said the project was an example of what a partnership can accomplish.
"We are in nature's space," she said. "And the coming together of youth, nature and art is an exceptional recognition of what all the partners coming together can do."