for Online Links to Resources
Click here if your school
would like to participate
The great modern architect, Stanley Tigerman once said
that to him, tiles were both democratic and accessible.
They are the essence of what public art has the potential
to be -- an art form that can be found anywhere in the world
by anyone, no matter one's class, race, age or gender; with
a purpose and beauty transcending all differences between
all peoples. Universally, tiles are looked at, walked on,
bathed in; and they surround and protect those in prayer,
public meetings, sacred song, and everyday activities.
Since their origin over 8,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt,
tiles have served not only a practical function in private
homes, public fountains and plazas, palaces, cathedrals,
parks, trains and subway stations throughout the world,
but they have also been one of the most enduring markers
of cultural history.
In Mexico, tile is landscape, with its expansive
plazas and great domed cupolas, shimmering with colorful
tiles; its brightly decorated colonial church interiors;
and tiled house interiors and fountains.
In Morocco, zillij, the complexly designed tile
mosaics adorn houses, mosques, floors, fountains, and walls;
keeping buildings and public places cool while adding color
and life to traditional architecture.
In Portugal, the azulejos, the famous narrative
"tiles with blue tones," cover houses of both
the rich and poor alike. They are tiles that tell stories,
historical events, religious and mythological tales, and
In Holland, the delft house tiles come alive with pictures
of everyday life from the past.
Wherever you look - Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa,
the Watts Tower in Los Angeles, or the L.A., Paris and NewYork
City subways - the list is endless - you can find what author
and designer Jill Herbers calls the "living archaeology"
One of the reasons the tile is a perfect object to create
for our international traveling exhibit at TransCultural
Exchange is because the tile contains the soul of a culture.
It is an object that has historically been material evidence
of cross-cultural exchange between peoples during times
of war and political upheaval, as well as during times of
peace. A tile can fit in the palm of one's hand - it is
a measurable unit of our humanity; it is one unit of many.
A tile can travel well, crossing political boundaries and
idealogical frontiers, which is exactly what our exhibit,
The Tile Project: Destination: the World, intends
Educators can take part in our paper tile exhibit that will
be permanently installed at different school sites throughout
the world (Please see http://www.transculturalexhange.org/tileproject
for more information). But whether you participate in TransCultural
Exchange's worldwide exhibit or not, I recommend using the
tile as a springboard for cross-curriculum learning in the
classroom. Teachers can use tile making as a way to explore
other cultures; investigate mathematical concepts, social
history, language arts, and even nature studies.
A great way to get started on your search for tile information
is to check out some of TransCultural
Exchange's website resources for teachers. You can look
up books, museums, historical facts, cultural information,
curriculum ideas, tile making instructions, and can also
see what tile making projects other schools throughout the
US and abroad have created.
Happy browsing and don't forget to contact us if you have
a great tile project you completed and would like to link
with our site.
for Online Links to Resources
Ancient Egyptian tile
Moroccan zillij tiles
Watts Towers, Los Angeles