Longshore Kids’ Wall Resurfaces At Library

Nearly 20 years ago, 1,400 Westport middle school students created what is believed to be the largest piece of public art in Fairfield County.

Designed by students in their art classrooms — with help from noted artists Katherine Ross and Miggs Burroughs — the “Kids’ Wall” rose 8 feet high, and stretched 44 feet wide.

Costing $18,000 — donated by dozens of individuals and organizations — it included 1,500 pounds of tile and adhesive, 1,000 pounds of “Wonder Board” (tile backing), and 200 pounds of grout.

There are 64 panels, 500 pieces of broken tile, and other objects on each panel. That’s 32,000 individual pieces on the mural, give or take a few.

Each panel was completed in one 50-minute art class. There were 64 classes, covering every 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grader in town.

The Kids’ Wall, at Longshore.

The approval process took 2 years. The Planning & Zoning Commission, Architectural Review Board, Parks & Recreation Department, Public Works, Police Department, Conservation Commission, RTM, Arts Advisory Council and Board of Selectmen all weighed in

Finally, it was done. The Kids’ Wall was unveiled near the Longshore pool on May 28, 2000.

It’s still there.

But it’s also at the Westport Library.

Just inside the upper parking lot entrance, there’s an exhibit celebrating the 20th anniversary. It includes a 1/3-scale banner of the wall, plus newspaper stories and more.

The Kids’ Wall exhibit at the library.(From left): Artists Miggs Burroughs and Katherine Ross; outgoing Library exhibits director Chris Timmons; incoming exhibits director Carol Erger-Fass.

Somehow, this enormous public art project never got the publicity it deserved. If you go to the Longshore pool or sailing school, you see it.

But no one else does — or even knows about it.

The “transformed” library opened 3 months ago. Perhaps this exhibit will transform the little-known Kids’ Wall into an artistic treasure, known far and wide.

Or at least beyond Longshore.

KIDS’ WALL BONUS: Click below for a video on the making of the mural:

8 responses to “Longshore Kids’ Wall Resurfaces At Library

  1. And it is BY FAR, the best looking thing anywhere near the pool with the possible exception of the LI sound, itself.

  2. Celeste Champagne

    What a treat as this is a “hidden treasure” for sure. But what about the tiled wall that has yet to make a transition to the “new” library?

  3. The predecessor to the wonderful tile wall was was the Mural created in 1995 for the very first First Night Celebration. Designed by Kassie Foss, it was painted by hundreds of students from all grades in Staples. Both Miggs Burroughs and Katherine Ross advised and supported it as well. The mural depicted a birds eye view of Westport and Weston and for many years hung in the tunnel between Main Street & Parker-Harding Plaza. Students used to love to visit it and point out the specific areas they painted and their signature on the signature board! It was removed several years ago when the tunnel was remodeled, but I have no idea where it now resides.

  4. The Kids’ Wall is beautiful and significant, but so is the River of Names. When is that going to be installed?

  5. Joanne Crawley

    What an amazing project! As a relative newcomer to Westport it was a pleasure to see the spirit and leadership and ability to make lasting dreams happen in this wonderful town. I am so proud to call Westport home. And now I can tell everyone about the wall and how it came to be. Thank you so much for posting this!

  6. William Strittmatter

    It is nice the original designers of the Kid’s Wall demonstrated the flexibility to allow their work to be downsized so the library could display it for folks to appreciate rather than insisting the library build a new wall to facilitate a full size unmodified reproduction (you know, so the artistic intention wouldn’t be compromised) to display it.

    It’s unfortunate the River of Names folks didn’t show similar flexibility in bending the river so we could be appreciating that as well. Oh well.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Is the Kids’ Wall downsized or is it simply reproduced in a smaller version, while the original remains in view?

      • I think so Dick. Not quite the same thing. Truth be known, The River of Names was never considered in the renovation.
        I do love that they have honored the Kids’ Wall. Such a lovely tribute !
        Pat