As part of the Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) expansion project, a 9’ x 8’ wall in the Nittany Station Café was transformed into a stunning tiled mosaic, thanks to the efforts of artist and University faculty member Chris Bonner in collaboration with PSU-LV Gallery Director and Arts Coordinator Ann Lalik.
Conceived and executed during the isolating hours of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project allowed the entire campus community, as well as alumni and friends, to make their own personal mark on the more than 14,000 tiles that comprise the piece.
Inspired by the work of artist Sol LeWitt, Bonner’s mosaic concept set up a system of processes that allowed a very disparate group of individuals to create a fairly uniform tile that combined with others to form a visual field greater than the sum of its parts.
Bonner demonstrated the tile-making process in live (socially distanced) workshops and instructional videos throughout the Spring 2021 semester, allowing even those unable to attend on-campus sessions to contribute to the mosaic.
Pieces were made from extruded porcelain rods that were sliced and gently pressed into a texture to create unique and personal impressions that reflected the makers’ identities.
Examples included notions of city life represented by concrete sidewalks, brick and macadam imprints, as well as depictions of the country offered via grass and leaves. Those who love fashion or sew used lace and pins, while others pressed shells, sand and driftwood into their small pieces. The construction team that worked on the expansion textured their tiles with screws, nuts and bolts. If you look closely, you will even find some lion paws!
Bonner bisque-fired and glazed the tiles, and a team of students and staff glued each piece to mesh squares that were then adhered to the wall and grouted.
Financial support for this project was provided by the student activity fee and Friends of the Gallery. For more information, contact Ann Lalik, Gallery Director and Arts Coordinator, at 610-285-5261 or [email protected].