Art and play: Large scale ‘Mosaic of Hope’ project unveiled in West Dayton

Thousands of pieces of colorful mosaic tile have been pieced together to create a new large-scale play area and work of art in West Dayton.

“Together We Rise,” a public art project that began at the Learn to Earn Readiness Summit earlier this year, was unveiled Wednesday at the Hope Center for Families on the Omega Community Development Corp. Harvard Campus, 1800 Harvard Blvd.

The in-ground mosaic is a play station designed with interactive games, alphabet letters and raised areas for crayon rubbings.

“We wanted to call this the Mosaic of Hope so that it represents the future and the resiliency that we all know our children have and our commitment to instilling hope in our young children,” said Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton and Preschool Promise.

The mosaic is a Play on Purpose spot, created to encourage families to have playful learning experiences with their children.

“We know that’s the best way to build our young children’s brains in that most important time of early development from birth up to age 5,” Lightcap said.

The project was made possible by Learn to Earn Dayton, Preschool Promise and the Montgomery County Play On Purpose Collaborative.

“Montgomery County is immensely invested in work like this to support our youngest children,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice at the unveiling.

Designed by Jes McMillan, founder of the Mosaic Institute of Dayton and Charles “Boogie” Sweeney, a Dayton artist, “Together We Rise” was built by members of the community during months of volunteer work sessions.

“I hope that kids enjoy playing the games and I want them to remember that they created this huge, beautiful picture,” McMillan said.

Big enough for numerous families to play on at once, the interactive artwork also features a soaring bird in colorful African kente cloth and sunrays that appear as people of all races with outstretched arms.

The interactive play station can be found in the playground near the intersection of Harvard Boulevard and Burroughs Drive.

A grand reveal for the public will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, July 28, with free games, hot dogs, lemonade, popcorn and shaved ice.

McMillan has also received a Culture Works special-projects grant to create “Flight Games,” two mosaics that will be installed near the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center on Third Street in the historic Wright Dunbar district in September.

A large image of the Wright brothers with dozens of aviation-themed objects hidden within the design will be one of the games, along with a 17-foot-long hopscotch mosaic.

McMillan also created “Bee Ambitious,” another large-scale mosaic game project in Kettering in 2019.

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