The mosaic adorns the walls of the new River Campus performance space: NewsCenter

August 31, 2021

Artist Jay Yan poses for a photo as he installs a mosaic mural made up of nearly 8,000 stainless steel pieces in the main entrance of the recently completed Sloan Performing Arts Center. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

Los Angeles-based Chinese-American artist Jay Yan has installed an original mural at the university’s Sloan Performing Arts Center.

Mural for two wallsa mosaic by artist Jay Yan, is the newest public art commissioned by the University of Rochester.

The artwork appears at the entrance to the University’s new Sloan Performing Arts Center, a three-story, 30,000 square foot building on the River Campus dedicated to creative expression through theater, dance and music.

Multi-colored flower-shaped bent stainless steel discs reflect the sunlight.

The individual discs of the mural are bent to reflect and glow in different ways as visitors approach from different angles. (Courtesy of Jay Yan)

“The hardest part of selecting a public work for a space like this is finding one that is bold enough to spark conversation, but not so bold as to interfere with the function of the installation. “, explains Allen Topolski, associate professor at the Department of Art and Art History who served on the selection committee.

In Yan, the selection committee found a talent whose creative vision matched the bill.

Overhead view of Jay Yan sorting individually wrapped parts with a blueprint displayed on a laptop.

Yan sorts the individual discs for the mural using a computer-generated blueprint. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

Yan is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied media arts. For more than a decade, he has exhibited art installations and videos in galleries in the United States, Asia and Europe. Yan’s website shows his range of work, from dyed fabrics to looping video installations.

It was “struck” by the over 50 feet of wall space as an opportunity for a new type of piece. “It’s pretty visible from afar, and you have different levels of experience as you get closer to it,” says Yan, who grew up in the New England area and is familiar with upstate New England. New York. The structure is 8 feet from the ground and 62 feet wide. “It’s the biggest piece I’ve ever done,” says Yan.

The man in the green shirt rolls a large sheet of paper with a floral pattern on the floor.

Yan’s friend Chris Coletta rolls out a printout of the computer-generated pattern used for the mural. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

Yan’s childhood friends Chris Coletta and Joe Butler flew in from Boston to work on the installation, which was meticulously planned. They arrived on site at 8 a.m. every morning from August 18 to 24, just as the River Campus was welcoming new freshmen.

Yan explains that the installation process involves placing a template on the wall to mark the location of all the mounting holes for a disc that will be drilled. “And then we’ll go through the whole wall to create a grid of holes to attach and install the artwork,” he says.

Jay Yan wears a mask while on scaffolding drilling discs into the wall.

Yan and his friends each drilled thousands of stainless steel discs into the walls of the building. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

The mural includes 7,820 mirrored disks in total, with 13 different types of disks. Shipped in boxes of six, each disc comes in its own sleeve to protect it from fingerprints. They have been custom laser cut to their shapes and screen printed in color making them durable. Although computer programming has contributed to the configuration of the work, “technology is not dominant”, explains Yan.

Dandelions, a symbol of Rochester’s perseverance, feature prominently in the design. “I think installation consists of individual pieces that come together to create an image. There is a beauty in the individual pieces, and then from afar there is a beauty in the whole, together,” says Yan.

As you walk through the doors of the Sloan Performing Arts Center, the mural appears overhead and a thump of color catches your eye as you make your way to the Liebner Box Office and Mittleman Café in the Brian F. Prince Atrium.

Angled view of the dandelion mosaic mural in the lobby of the Sloan Center.

Dandelions, a symbol of Rochester’s perseverance, feature prominently in the design of the mural. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

Discs are not flat against the wall; instead, they’re bent to reflect and glow in different ways as you approach from different angles. Passers-by commented on how the mural seemed to move like a windmill during installation, but “it’s more like a light windmill,” Yan says. Although the discs do not move, sunlight can trick the eye.

And since the windows of the Sloan Center face a roundabout on Wilson Boulevard, “every time a car passes, the light flickers all over the room,” says Yan.

Jay Yan's mural viewed from Wilson Boulevard at dusk inside the Sloan Center.

“Mural for Two Walls” viewed from outside the Sloan Center on Wilson Boulevard at dusk. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

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Keywords: Allen Topolski, arts and sciences, featured, performing arts, Sloan Performing Arts Center

Category: Arts