At last! The mural installation is underway at the San Francisco International Airport. Untitled (Large Variation) has been sitting in art storage in two 1200 pound crates for nearly eighteen months. After all this time, it is exciting to begin the installation process.
And what a process it is! The team at Mosaika in Montreal worked on the piece for nine months, assembling over 70,000 hand-glazed, hand-cut ceramic tiles onto a full-scale printed template of the design. I traveled to Montreal for the final quality check in December 2013 and we examined every inch of the mural, checking the placement of each color and shape. Mosaika's artists walked on the piece in their stocking feet, making changes as necessary.
As each section passed muster, it was overlaid with clear, sticky-backed plastic sheeting and then labeled and cut into sections small enough to fit into shipping crates. The sections were marked with a grid that corresponds with a matching grid on the job site wall. Since the piece is quite large (10' x 108' 8 ½") it is essential to maintain proper alignment of the sections.
Installation began on June 8. The first week was spent preparing the wall surface and managing the complex logistics for installing within a "sterile" (post-security) area of SFO. Mosaika's installation team (Mike, Emily, Chloe and Valentina) is utterly professional and unflappable, stringent security rules at SFO notwithstanding.
The mural is being installed beginning at the bottom left corner. The bottom edge and left edge have been cut and squared to fit within the metal frame built for the piece, while the top and right edges will be trimmed on site so that they fit just so. The installers have a supply of extra tiles in all colors so that they can cut new pieces to fit in the event that pieces are lost or damaged during the process.
It is a joy to watch the team and to witness their expertise at the highest possible level of execution. I will be stopping in as often as possible during the installation to observe and photograph so I can share this exciting process with you.