ProjectsCincinnati Park BoardCommunity Based – Clay, Color and Fire (2003)
at T. M. Berry International Friendship Park

Making the Tiles

Clay, Color and Fire The 15,000+ tiles were created during a month-long ceramic mosaics workshop at UC DAAP in July 2003 by invitation of Jonathan Riess, Acting Chair of the Dept of Fine Arts DAAP. The diversity of the artists team grew out of the Cincinnati Sister City program, including one African, three Asian and three European ceramic masters. The project established the first artists network among the cities through a process of research, invitation, reivew and jurying of artist applications. Jan designed the project to allow individual expression from each participant, yet with a harmonized framework of color and texture from column to column. Conceptual design and design development were carried on via email prior to the artists arrivals in Cincinnati. Supported by over 150 volunteers during their visit, the artists relied on host families and local apprentices to fulfill their work. The wider community supported the project by sponsorships, grants, homestays and hospitality, translation services, cultural enrichment and publicity. The total value of the project was $200,000.

Award-winning project: Jan was awarded twice for excellence in this project. She was named “Individual in the Arts” in 2003 by the Post Corbett Awards, and also for an “Outstanding Cultural Art Program” in 2004 by the Regional Leadership Forum of Greater Cincinnati.

A website containing many of the project documents can be found at

  • Jan modeled this high relief maquette to communicate to the team of Cincinnati artists the dimensionality of the design they had only seen in a 2-dimensional color sketch. The team of artists including Kirk Mayhew, Katie Swartz, Jay Axe, Victoria Allen, Suzanne Lambert and Jan worked together to model, cut, hollow, fire and glaze the Double Phoenix tiles that fill the hearth at the pavilion.

  • The Artists: The ceramic master artists included Steven Lin (Taiwan), Marjorie Wallace (Zimbabwe), Jan Brown Checco (Cincinnati/project designer and director), Vladimir Shapovalov (Ukraine), Ikuhiko Shibata (Japan), Philippe Pasqualini (France), Kirk Mayhew (Cincinnati/workshop manager), Eva Sperner (Germany), and He Zhenhai (China).

  • He Zhenhai/Liuzhou used pumice stone to add texture to his large slab of clay that featured animal forms in the style of the Minority People of Guangxi Province.

  • Three different events were held to allow for the public at large to come and participate in tile making.

  • A sampling of the tiles created by the public during workshop open houses.

  • Public tiles were used to frame the Double Phoenix image at the hearth.

  • Jan arranges the cut tiles of Vladimir Shapovalov/Kharkiv on cardboard sheets for the tilesetters progressing application to the column.

  • Jackie Weist, a host to visiting artists and workshop volunteer, helps to clean grout off the tiles on Ikuhiko Shibata’s column.