Visitors wandering through College Preparatory School’s new academic building are surprised to find a piece of the night sky appearing between two classrooms. Commissioned under the City of Oakland’s Public Art Program, Luminous Ground, a mural by artist Ala Ebtekar, reminds us of the potential of art in the public realm to communicate and connect. Ebtekar’s poetic layering of art, science, exploration and contemplation welcomes the broader campus community to engage with the school’s core values.
Ebtekar’s work tests the sculptural and photographic possibilities of time and space to invite contemplative reflection – looking inward while gazing outward. His process spans time as well, borrowing from ancient means of making and embracing scientific advances. Luminous Ground references earlier traditions of finishing grand domes and palatial ceilings with representations of the heavens – bringing the skies closer to earth. Instead of polychrome tile mosaic found in Iran, Ebtekar turned to a modern production method using negatives of an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to create the hand-rolled and hand-glazed porcelain tiles. Fabricated in collaboration with Mosaika and fired 1,800°F, the tiles bear the variation and depth of the handmade yet are incredibly durable.