'It's going to be our legacy': Mosaic celebrating Roselle's history to be dedicated on Saturday
For Roselle's centennial this year, local artist Karen Ostrander wanted the village to have a commemorative public artwork with an extra degree of permanence.
"This should last a few lifetimes," Ostrander said. "It's going to be our legacy."
Ostrander thought of how the tile mosaics from the ancient Roman and Byzantine empires have survived through the centuries. So, a colorful new mosaic reflecting Roselle's history was a natural choice.
Ostrander is the art director and secretary of the Roselle Arts & Culture Foundation (RACF). The nonprofit was founded in 2021 in large part to fundraise and spearhead what became known as the Centennial Mosaic Public Art Project.
An official dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the completed mosaic will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at 107 Main St. Village officials, foundation members and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Mark Gorski (a graduate of Roselle's Lake Park High School) are all scheduled to appear.
But Ostrander hopes that everyone who had a hand in the mosaic's creation will be at the ceremony. The community art project was specifically designed with the Chicago-based nonprofit Green Star Movement to involve different generations of Roselle residents.
"I believe that art can help build community relations," Ostrander said. "You have people you don't know working side by side cutting tile and sharing tools -- so it's a community thing."
Green Star Movement is known throughout Chicago for beautifying urban spaces via mosaics on building facades and underpasses. The nonprofit's community-focused approach to creating mosaics was another major draw for the RACF.
For example, students from Trinity Lutheran School and Roselle Middle School participated in placing the tiles for the mosaic.
"Now kids can point to it and say, 'Look, mom, I placed the blue next to that flower,'" Ostrander said. "So they are a part of it and its legacy."
The RACF also approached several historians and residents last summer for suggestions on what images would be key identifiers of Roselle. These included a steam train locomotive, flax crops and a historic Main Street dairy.
Ostrander was hesitant to be labeled as the project's lead designer or art director. But she did confirm that "I did all the drawing" for the surrealistic juxtaposition of Roselle images.
The mosaic's placement on the west wall of the 8,000 Miles Restaurant was also carefully chosen. The proximity to Roselle's Civic Plaza means it will be seen during outdoor concerts and other community events.
"It was empty with a big bland wall," Ostrander said. "And now when you come to see it, the wall is beautiful."