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Friday, March 16, 2007

Mosaic Mural

I have been working for months on the design and other technical matters of and 11' by 7' mosaic mural. This venture came about when the principal of P.S. 57 saw my work and had this dream of commissioning a mosaic mural for his school. The school is already full of art, both by the children and by professional artists. The art teacher at the school has done some wonderful work with the kids, and the principal, Israel Soto is his name, is a true lover of art who has turned this little school into a beautiful oasis of learning.

The process for this mural so far has been as follows:
1. Drawing a preliminary sketch and submitting it to the principal. The sketch was very rough and didn't really show the features of the children or many of the details.
2. I met with Soto and he asked if it would be possible to incorporate music. He is a musician. I said "No problem." This was a great idea. It really added a special touch to the final design.
3. I photographed some of the children at the school. Most of them are my students since I work in the Say Yes to Education after School Program. They were happy to pose for me and I got exactly what I had in mind. I wanted the profiles to be just right, and had a little girl in mind, whom I was fortunate enough to see that day. The boy I had in mind had misbehaved and couldn't make it, but I found a great substitute. In fact, he is the right boy for the mural and it was a lucky situation for me.
4. I downloaded the photos and build the composition in Photoshop. Then I posterized the image to simplify it and change the colors.
5. Here comes the boring part: I divided the image into 268 squares, representing 6 square inches each. I enlarged each piece and printed it out, one by one. This took several days. I wouldn't do it for more than two hours because I don't deserve that kind of punishment...
6. I cut each piece and numbered it. Several days too...!
7. I put the jigsaw puzzle together. That took a whole day. I spent the weekend in bed since I had to use muscles I had not used since teenagehood...
8. I invited Mr. Soto to see. He couldn't see the whole thing, but was impressed by 3/4 of it! I gave him some wine just to make sure he would like it, but he didn't drink it and still liked it...
9. I waited for the money to buy supplies, but in the end got tired and proceeded to calculate the number of tiles. This took another two days and a couple of headaches, as well as all the math I could conjure. In the end I felt accomplished, but had to rest for two hours after placing the order. They even cancelled my credit card because mosaic materials are so expensive and the card company thought someone was pretending to be me.
10. I waited almost two weeks for the tons of boxes to arrive. Thousands and thousands of little glass tiles in all colors!
11. In the meantime, I placed mesh over the mural after dividing it into 3 vertical pieces. This was easier than I had imagined, but had to redo it because the tape was not working and I decided sewing was a better solution.
12. The day after the materials arrived I showed up at the school to work. Mr. Soto got me tables, space and students to help. I have 5 big girls and boys (7th and 8th graders) who will be my assistants. They are all so serious and seemed excited about the project!
13. Today I spent 9 hours working on the hair and face of the boy (left). It was exhausting, but wonderful! I look forward to the next two months working on this project.

Thanks Manny Vega for all your advise and the time you took to talk to me and teach me! I wasn't a good student because I was too nervous about the sculpture and the begining of the school year, but listened to every little piece of advise you gave me!