(Pictured from left to right: Pittsburgh Artist Mr. Mosser, Principal Dziak and Ms. Blackburn stand around the portrait of Principal Dziak that will be included in the "Really Big Faces" Showcase)
“Tula always goes the extra mile for students and staff, so she is a great representative.”
Ms. Natalie Blackburn, Art Teacher at Muse Elementary says as she describes why she thought Principal Dziak would be a great addition to Pittsburgh Artist Tom Mosser’s "Really Big Faces” (of the Pandemic) collection. Principal Dziak will represent a face of education in this 70 plus portrait series which includes doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, and others who were instrumental in managing COVID-19. Mr. Mosser says he was impressed by Principal Dziak’s actions during the pandemic, and how she was always checking to make sure her students were safe throughout this stressful time. Principal Dsiak feels honored to be apart of this experience,
"I am both honored and humbled to represent the many educators that go above and beyond not just during the pandemic but every day to meet the needs of their students."
Ms. Blackburn met Tom when she was in college at Pitt through mutual artist friends. She and Principal Dziak visited him at his studio in the summer, (see the attached photos) so that Mr. Mosser could photograph her and they could arrange for Muse Elementary students to assist in this piece. Students contributed to the painting under Mr. Mosser and Ms. Blackburn’s direction. Ms. Blackburn says they discussed ways they could incorporate Muse Elementary students into this experience,”
“I've been in conversations with Tom about his ongoing portrait project as he documents his progress online and using Tula to represent a face of "education" came up. He also often paints with unusual tools, such as shoes or sports balls, so the idea of using student hands to make Tula's portrait really lent itself well in terms of an interesting texture, but also symbolically of students’ lives also being affected by the pandemic.”
Fourth graders at Muse Elementary are currently working on their own self-portraits in art class and have learned about portrait artists Chuck Close and Andy Warhol, who Tom also draws inspiration from for this series. Mrs. Stealey’s fourth grade class was the first to finish their self portraits so they were selected for Mr. Mosser’s visit.
Mr. Mosser will have his “Really Big Faces” display, including Principal Dziak’s final piece available to view on June 18 at the Energy Innovation Center in the Historic Hill District.
Click here to watch a video of Mr. Mosser demonstrating his techniques to Muse Elementary students and click here to read the article that made the front page of the Observer-Reporter!
Special thanks to Mr. Mosser, Ms. Blackburn, Mrs. Stealey and Principal Dziak for making this a special day for Muse Elementary Fourth Graders!