Large-scale outdoor mosaic game boards are planned for West Dayton

Two large-scale, outdoor mosaics — a combination of art and activity — are planned for the Dayton community this year.

“Together We Rise,” a 400-square-foot play station, will be installed at the Hope Center for Families, 1800 Harvard Blvd. in Dayton.

Plans for the 19-foot-long mosaic, built into the ground, incorporate letters, words and images from pieces of tile to create a learning game that families can play together.

A soaring bird in colorful African kente cloth, sunrays that appear as humans with outstretched arms and the alphabet are part of the design.

ExplorePublic art transforms Kettering neighborhood into giant game board

“This is not just a beautiful picture, it is a physical representation of unity,” Jes McMillan, founder of the Mosaic Institute of Dayton, said.

The game board is a joint initiative by The Mosaic Institute of Dayton, Learn to Earn Dayton, Omega Community Development Corporation and Omega Baptist Church.

McMillan, who has created mosaic art throughout the Dayton area, believes the collaborative process helps build community.

“Together, one piece at a time, we will fill this city with mosaic and show the world what unity looks like,” she said.

She mailed out hundreds of pieces of tiles earlier in the year and held virtual mosaic workshops with the recipients who wrote messages of hope on the individual tile pieces and returned them.

ExploreJes McMillan wants to bring the community together with art

“It’s pushed me to connect with the community in new ways,” McMillan said. Social connection helps us understand how each other is feeling. Empathy is how we make change — lasting social change.”

Small groups of volunteers are gathering to build the mosaic at the Omega Community Development Corporation. There are build dates planned this month and in April. Available openings can be scheduled on a sign-up sheet found here.

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.

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-feet-long hopscotch mosaic.

The schedule for installing the west Dayton mosaic games will depend on the weather, but McMillan hopes it will be completed this summer.

ExploreDayton-area artists bring design to climate awareness

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

She hopes someday the Dayton-area will become a destination for large-scale interactive games.

“I think that if I can install three games a year for the next 10 years, people will come to Dayton to play these big, giant mosaic game boards,” she said. “Just like flight and innovation, Dayton will be known for those, and that is the legacy I want to leave here.”

About the Author