A HOWARD COUNTY art exhibit in a giraffe house? Absolutely. This year, Howard County Day at the Baltimore Zoo is really Howard County Day because the people of Howard are involved.
Rebecca Bafford, Columbia Art Center director, coordinated an art project involving Howard County students, teachers, the school board, Boy Scouts and the Baltimore Zoo.
She invited art teachers and their students to create African animal designs for ceramic tiles.
The students went to the center to decorate the tiles, which had been cut and trimmed by a volunteer crew led by Nicholas Thomas, who selected the program as his Eagle Scout project.
Nick coordinated 25 volunteers -- middle school students, Boy Scout leaders, members and parents -- who worked two-hour shifts on three Saturdays for a total of 135 hours.
Under the supervision of Liz Henzey, CAC programs director, CAC volunteers and staff members glazed and fired the tiles, which will be exhibited in the center's children's gallery before being permanently mounted in the giraffe house.
Sounds simple, but it wasn't. After an initial planning meeting with Roger Birkel, the zoo's executive director, Ms. Bafford discussed the project with Barry Shauk, supervisor of art for the Howard County Board of Education, who approved the idea.
Materials were supplied by CAC. Art teachers were notified about the program and students were encouraged to participate. Tile painting was done at the center, which involved parents bringing children on three consecutive Saturdays.
Long Reach Village resident Jay Taylor documented the project with photographs. Logistics were coordinated with Liza Herschel, the zoo's educational programs coordinator and founder of Howard County Day at the zoo.
Kathleen Carlson, logistics coordinator for George Washington University's ceramic program, is designing the framing and installation of the tiles as part of her graduate work in architectural ceramics.
Professor Turker Ozdogan the university's director of ceramics, is acting adviser for the display.
Mount View Middle School is involved because Principal Marian Payne initiated the school's educational partnership with the zoo.
On Howard County Day, Mount View students will be at their hands-on information booths providing information gleaned from months of working with the zoo staff.
Ann Scherr, assistant director of community services for the Columbia Association, said: "The tile project is a wonderful opportunity for students, teachers and sponsors to work together on a permanent art project which will be enjoyed by all visitors to the Baltimore Zoo's giraffe house."
Students, their families, friends and the public are invited to come to the Columbia Art Center's MontAGE Gallery from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 to see and appreciate the students' work.
Early next month, the exhibit will be taken down and packed for its trip to the Baltimore Zoo. All are invited to visit the zoo for the exhibit's opening reception and unveiling at 11 a.m. May 7.