To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

History of Union realized through elementary school art project

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jun 18, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Artist-in-residence Randy Fein, left, and art teacher Anthony Lufkin pose with the finished project that outlines Union's history in this clay relief mural at Union Elementary School June 15.

Union — A project that began two years ago came to fruition June 15 at Union Elementary School.

Art teacher Anthony Lufkin and local artist-in-residence Randy Fein, along with approximately 160 students, collaborated to create a ceramic relief mural with the theme "Our Town Union."

The multifaceted mural celebrates the community of Union from its historic architecture to its interconnected ecology.

Each grade, from pre-kindergarten through grade six, created one composition related to research they conducted about the local area -- from birds and fish to early settlers and the architecture and historic industries.

Principal Christina Wotton said in addition to the art part of the project, Lufkin wanted to include learning about the history of Union.

"His vision was to present the mural to the town so there would be something honoring our town and community that would stay for many years to come," she said.

Lufkin applied for an art grant from the Maine Arts Commission as well as two other grants, Wotton explained.

The school received $2,000 from the Perloff Family Fund, $2,300 from the Arts Commission and $1,000 from the Maine Space Grant Consortium, which covered the cost of the entire project.

Lufkin and Wotton met with the Union Historical Society last November to find the best resources to teach the students about the town's history.

The students developed drawings based on their research, then translated those into their clay relief. Each of the nine circular clay reliefs were cut into irregularly shaped tiles, and slowly dried and kiln-fired.

The numbered tiles were then reassembled and painted by the students before being adhered together on plywood backing and arranged on a wall outside the art room.

Unlike most artwork, Fein said, the clay mural is meant to be touched.

"It is a true collaborative success," she said.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

Mural unveiling at UES
Unlike most pieces of art, this clay relief mural is meant to be touched as students learn about the history of Union during a collaborative art project. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A project that has been in the works for almost two years is unveiled at Union Elementary School June 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The kindergarteners studied various types of trees found in the area as their part of the project. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Second-grade students identified fish and other animals and industries from the early days of Union. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Third-grade students explored four-legged animals. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
First-grade students learned about birds. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Fourth- and fifth-graders learned about early settlers of Union. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The sixth-grade class focused on architecture and historic industries of the town. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (1)
Posted by: Sandra Savage | Jun 19, 2018 07:16

Congratulations on a job well done. This is education at its best, using methods outside of  traditional "book" learning. Would be wonderful if this display could somehow be made available to the public. Perhaps a display at Union Founder's Day.

If you wish to comment, please login.