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Paul Laurence Dunbar students create ceramic tile mural depicting native plants at Gardenside Park

Art students from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School created a new mural for Gardenside Park as part of a community-based group project (Photo from Gardenside Neighborhood Association)

There’s a new piece of public art at Gardenside Park, and it was designed by local students.

Under the direction of their teacher, Deborah Eller, and a retired art teacher, Elise Melrood, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School art students created ceramic tiles depicting native plants. Together the tiles form a colorful 4×3-foot mural.

The purpose is to increase awareness of how native plants improve water quality. Since 2014, Gardenside Neighborhood Association has been working to establish a stream buffer along the creek in Gardenside Park, planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers. The stream buffer prevents erosion, filters stormwater to prevent pollutants from entering the stream, and provides food and habitat for pollinators and birds, frogs and salamanders that help to control mosquitos. The stream is part of the Wolf Run Watershed that feeds Town Branch and eventually the Kentucky River.

The Gardenside Park mural project was funded by a 2017 Stormwater Quality Incentive Grant (Photo from Gardenside Neighborhood Association)

Each year, students in the Advanced Placement Studio/Advanced Honors Art Class create a community-based group project. “I knew this would be a great way to give back to our community since many of the Dunbar students live in Gardenside,” Eller said. Both Eller and Melrood are Gardenside residents, as well.

Melrood said she was inspired by a similar mural at the Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C. “I envisioned how beautiful a ceramic tile mural of native plants would look in our small neighborhood Gardenside Park,” she said. “The idea of creating art in public places, such as the park, has always interested me. It serves the purpose of beautifying the park, creating interest and discussion, and firing the imagination. Using the creek and the restoration along the stream bed as the foundation, the mural, mounted near the creek, will educate its viewers to the importance of this particular environment to our ecosystem.”

In the future, workshops are planned for people who want to learn more about ways to improve water quality.

The project was funded by a 2017 Stormwater Quality Incentive Grant. The public is invited to the unveiling of the native plant mural at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Gardenside Park, 1835 Yorktown Road., to meet the students who created this new piece of public art.

From Gardenside Neighborhood Association

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