Skip to Main content

Students design mosaic for welcome center

Apr 5, 2013
by Tom Iacuzio, '06

When Flagler College’s new Admissions and Financial Aid center, Hanke Hall, opened for business in August 2012, one of the first things prospective students saw was the work of those who came before them: a 30–foot-long mosaic fountain which resides in the building’s courtyard.

Sixteen students from the fields of graphic design worked together on the design that depicts the skyline of St. Augustine.

Students presented various designs to a committee that included director of business services Larry Weeks, vice president for enrollment management Marc Williar, landscape architect Sharon Fowler and two local mosaic artists.

“We had great support from Wendy McDaniel and Jan Masters,” said art professor Don Martin, who oversaw the project. “They provided valuable guidance through all the complex technical and aesthetic issues associated with a project such as this.”

The winning design, submitted by Callie Cheney, then underwent some expansion and improvements until the final plan was completed.

“I made this design because I thought it would be a good way to showcase the impact that Flagler College students have in this city,” said Cheney, whose inclusion of handmade fish, birds and leaves create a sense of movement through the piece. “We all live, work and go to school in St. Augustine, and this is a great way for us to physically leave our mark in the city.”

But designing the look was the easy part.

“We had to turn that design into a mosaic,” said Martin. “There are thousands of pieces of tile here of different colors and sizes all of which have to be painstakingly placed in just the right spot.”

Before students could place the pieces, they had to make them. That meant breaking hundreds of tiles, found items such as mugs and plates as well as creating the handmade items for the piece.

After the pieces were broken, the group had to sort the pieces into color coded section and then coordinate the code to the mesh the mosaic would be placed on, like a giant paint by numbers.

“This is new to everyone,” said Martin. “We’ve never attempted anything like this before.”

But even though Martin says his first thoughts of undertaking the project were about how much could go wrong, his fears never deterred him from going forward.

“I knew we had people who could help us and I thought it could be an exciting challenge for everybody,” he said.

For Martin, the opportunity proved to be everything he hoped it would be.

“As an instructor the most gratifying aspect of this project was the truly collaborative nature of the process. Although the design was basically created by one member of the class, each student completely invested in the project and the final result looks like the result of one artist rather than sixteen,” said Martin. “It is so rare to see that level of selfless collaboration in the context of a college art class.”

Martin said that in addition to the learning experience creating the piece would be for students, the greater reward would be in having taken part in something that could last for generations.

“Every time you glue a piece down, you have to realize that that is where it will be for years to come,” said Martin. “But how many undergrads have the opportunity to do something like this. Years from now, they’ll be able to bring their children here and show this project they helped create.”

Tagged As