Ruby Carranza, 13, had never done a major art project before but she's proud that her first will hang in Santa Cruz for as long as she can imagine.
The Mission Middle School seventh grader made a 41 inch by 14 inch mosaic of brussel sprouts, a tribute to her father who has worked with the crop near Davenport for 40 years. As of Friday, it is on permanent display over the San Lorenzo River on the Soquel Avenue Bridge.
"I'm really proud," she said looking at her work on the entranceway to downtown Santa Cruz, one of 90 mosaics presenting brightly-tiled images of the agriculture of Santa Cruz County.
"When I'm old I'm going to be able to come and it will be here forever."
This public art project was inspired by artist Kathleen Crocetti. This is the second bridge her students have done in the past two years. The first, on the Water Street Bridge, had a theme of endangered animals.
The new one, which was voted on by the students, includes crops, turkeys, cows and flowers – the things that bring food and decorations to tables. Crocetti has her eye on the Broadway Bridge for next year.
Crocetti, who has won awards for her ability to make art come to life for students, raised $5,686 of donations on kickstarter.org, the charitable website. She's won a Gail Rich award in 2010 and a California Middle School Educator of the Year award in 2009.
She got 89 sponsors for this bridge project, including Santa Cruz Patch. Top donors got their names on a post at the foot of the bridge.
Student artists and families showed up Friday to celebrate the installation. Mayor Don Lane told them their work looked as good as art done by professionals. No one would argue with that.
Carranza took six weeks from inspiration to completion, including sketching out her sprouts on paper projected on an overhead projector to see how the drawing would look large. Then there was the work of putting the tiles in place on the bridge.
"I got really excited when I saw it," she said. "It looked better than I thought it would. It looked really professional. It's hard to believe we made them."
Her father manages Sunset Farms and she has been around the crop as long as she can remember. Does Ruby still like eating brussel sprouts?
"Let's just say they have always been a big part of my life."