Morgan Brown and Alyssa Krepps stood and looked at their partially finished tiled likeness in a room in the technology wing of West York Area High School.
"No one wants to work on us," Alyssa joked with Morgan.
The mosaic of Alyssa, a junior, and Morgan, a sophomore, is one of the more difficult ones that will be installed in the school once completed.
Squiggly lines outline where the tiles, mainly various shades of blue, go to fill in shirts the girls were wearing when their moment was captured in time.
The mosaic of Morgan and Alyssa is one of a series of four, part of an all-school project, aptly named "The Project." Its theme is "I hear. I saw. I say. I feel." -- one for each mosaic -- and Morgan's
Their mosaic shows Morgan and Alyssa whispering to each other in a hallway.
When all four pieces are complete, they will be installed in the school.
"It's pretty cool to know I'll be part of history," Morgan said.
On the go: Unlike most pieces of art, the mosaics are on wheeled displays and can be shown together or separately, said Justin Ayala, resident artist at the school.
"There's really beautiful art out there, but if you pass by it every day, it blends in like a light switch," he said.
Ayala, who has worked with a number of students at schools across the county, is at West York on a grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.
He got all students involved in "The Project."
One student took pictures of posing students for the mosaic designs. Art students created some of the large ceramic pieces, such as a stop sign and flowers, for the mosaics. Other students created videos that will be shown on four tablet computers that are integrated into the mosaics. Another student wrote original music to accompany the videos.
Hearts: Students in one of Al Janaszek's manufacturing classes designed and built the displays that house the art.
Normally the manufacturing students design, build and market fictitious items for the class. Ayala visited the class and told them what he was looking for, and students set to work filling the order, Janaszek said.
Even if students weren't into art, Ayala got them involved. He had every student at the school draw hearts of various sizes. The hearts will be put into a stop-motion video that, when played, will look like a beating heart.
Ayala said he's been impressed with how excited students have been to be part of the massive art project.
"The whole thing just grew completely organically," he said.
Puzzle: During flex periods, a number of students have been going down to the room that houses the project to put pieces of tile on the mosaics.
Natasha King, a sophomore, said she worked ahead in her math class so she could help out.
"It's great to know you did something for your school," she said.
But getting each piece of tile to fit into a spot isn't always easy.
Victor Rodriguez, a senior, used a table saw to cut down a tile and attempted to push it into place.
It didn't fit.
So he was back to the saw again to trim a bit more off the ceramic tile. That did the trick.
The tile slid into place, leaving the right amount of space around its sides.
"I didn't think that I would actually like doing this," Victor said after he wiped off dust from the tile. "But I do."
Work in progress: The mosaics could serve as a teaching tool, said Penny Shearer, a sculpture and ceramics teacher.
Teachers could showcase what students are working on by showing videos on the tablet computers, she said.
Since each mosaic is on wheels, teachers could park one in the halls in front of their classrooms and the videos could be shown to passing students, Shearer said.
"We didn't want something that would be static on the wall," she said.
"The Project" is expected to be unveiled at the school's open house night in the fall, and plans are in the works to have it displayed in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Harrisburg over the summer.
Shearer said she'd like to have Ayala return every two years to update the art.
"We really hope this becomes a living part of the school," she said.
-- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.