LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- LaFayette High School art teacher Liz Hornik remembers how people reacted when she first got students to create public art for display around town.
"LaFayette's getting all artsy."
Resident comments like that prompted her to think, "Yes! That's exactly what I want."
Hornik's students just finished their latest work in the attempt to artsy-fy LaFayette: An opaque, stained-glass mosaic modeled after a traditional "propeller" pattern quilt. The work will hang in the lobby of the new Barwick-LaFayette Airport terminal once it's rebuilt.
"This was a really simple one. We did this in about two weeks," Hornik said.
Adrianne Counch, a junior who helped make the airport mosaic, said Hornik's art class is "my most fun class."
Other student-made, stained-glass mosaics have been mounted around town in the past few weeks, including a peach tree near a Cohutta Bank branch and a traditional Cherokee Indian design at the LaFayette-Walker County Library.
All told, students in Hornik's class, Heather Hawkins' art class at LaFayette Middle School and Chris Sandow's art class at Gilbert Elementary School have produced 21 large works of art in the last six years.
The LaFayette Downtown Development Authority funds the artwork by reimbursing teachers for materials.
"The program is a win-win for everyone, because the DDA is helping to nurture artistic talent, the art beautifies downtown and students feel pride in a community when they can point to a piece of art and say they helped to create it," said Catherine Edgemon, LaFayette's MainStreet and economic development director.
And art classes are something students stick with, Hornik said. Many of her students are the same ones she had seven years ago when she moved to LaFayette from Houston, Texas, to teach at the middle school, she said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.