CityArts Mosaic Mural

by Fred Showker

as_mosaic CityArts Mosaic Mural ProjectOn my most recent visit to Amazement Square, a children's museum in Lynchburg Virginia, I learned about their CityArts Mosaic Mural Project, and was so impressed with the concept and the progress I had to pass it along to you.

Images are clickable -- at right, students gather to the site, where chores are assigned, and construction continues

Directed by Beryl Solla, a nationally recognized mosaic artist, each summer, students from all around the region can register and take part in creating this Lynchburg landmark. Donated and sponsored broken tiles come together to create this wonderful mosaic mural that will replace a dull, concrete parking lot wall at Lynchburg's "Amazement Square."

as_mosaic_scaff 4,800 square feet

When completed, this ceramic tile mural will be one of the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia -- a lasting gift to the community. The mural details the rich history of Central Virginia.

Left: Scaffolding is required to reach the higher areas of the wall, where students follow detailed plans on color and form.

The scene follows the flow of the James River, progressing from the time before humans inhabitants, when buffalo and deer roamed freely, to the height of the Monacan Indian society, to the settlement of the area by the English, to the booming industrial period, to the current revitalization of downtown Lynchburg.

as_mosaic_detail Tedious progress

Working under the guidance of professional artists, volunteers are completing the panel of the mural that depicts the early town of Lynchburg during the 1880s. It's a slow process, fitting shapes of broken tiles into the pre-drawn layout. Color selection and "flow" of tile shapes all have to follow into the rhythmic texture that will form images.

Right: One student comments : Fitting pieces in this huge puzzle, sometimes takes hours and hours to finish only a couple of square feet!

Conditions are carefully supervised, using professional grade tools and materials, sealing each tile piece to the wall with industrial mastic. Students carefully hand-place and attach pieces by size, shape, color, etc. Finished sections are grouted and cleaned later, by yet another crew of volunteers.

CityArt Mural in Lynchburg, Virginia's Amazement Square

Beryl Solla, who's passion is "taking broken tiles and mending communities," says:

quoting I believe that public art should reflect the needs and interests of the people in the community ... When possible, I involve community members in my art by incorporating their history or by inviting them to make tiles with me (*) end quote

Beryl SollaBeryl Solla, a graduate of James Madison University* in Harrisonburg, VA*, has over 25 years of experience in art education, most recently as the Art Department Chair and Gallery Director at Piedmont Virginia Community College* in Charlottesville, VA*. She specializes in public art with an emphasis on programs for children. She has facilitated many workshops designed to raise students’ awareness and understanding of public art, engage students in the creative process, and teach them the skills necessary to create mosaic art.

Fred visits Amazement Square in Lynchburg VirginiaTHIS IS A FABULOUS PROJECT, and I'm hoping to bring this kind of project to my local children's museum. When these photos were taken, the program was in its third year. It will continue until complete -- and you can bet I'll be following along. I take at least one trip to Amazement Square a year because it's such an uplifting experience -- and there's always something new and exciting for a creative shot-in-the arm. So, if you are ever in the neighborhood of Lynchburg, Virginia, do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon at Amazement Square. The people are wonderful, and the joyful atmosphere is contageous!

Amazement Square, Lynchburg, VA - www.amazementsquare.com
Photo slideshow Broken tiles, Mending Communities - www.jmu.edu/montpelier/
Photo slideshow Enlargements of Photos in this story

... and thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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