Mosaic adorns the walls of the new River Campus performance space: NewsCenter

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August 31, 2021

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

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

Wall paint for two walls, a mosaic by artist Jay Yan, is the most recent public art commissioned by the University of Rochester.

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

Multicolored folded flower shaped stainless steel discs reflect sunlight.

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

“The hardest part of selecting a public artwork for a space like this is finding one that’s bold enough to spark conversation, but not so much that it interferes with the function of the installation.” », Explains Allen Topolski, associate professor at Department of Art and Art History who was part of the selection committee.

In Yan, the selection committee found a talent whose creative vision suited perfectly.

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

Yan sorts the individual disks in the mural using a computer-generated master plan. (Photo University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)

Yan graduated from 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 her 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 kind of room. “It’s pretty visible from afar, and you have different levels of experience as you get closer,” says Yan, who grew up in the New England area and is familiar with upstate New. York. The book is 8 feet from the ground and 62 feet wide. “It’s the biggest song I’ve ever done,” Yan says.

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

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

Chris Coletta and Joe Butler, Yan’s childhood friends, came from Boston to work on the installation, which was meticulously planned. They arrived on site every morning at 8 a.m. from August 18 to 24, when the River Campus was welcoming new first-year students.

Yan explains that the installation process involves placing a template on the wall to indicate the location of all the holes to attach a disc that will be drilled. “And then we’ll go through the entire 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 features 7,820 mirrored discs in total, with 13 different types of discs. Shipped in boxes of six, each disc comes in its own sleeve to protect it from fingerprints. They have been laser cut to measure to their shapes and screen printed in color, making them durable. Although computer programming helped shape the work, “technology is not dominant,” Yan explains.

Dandelions, a symbol of Rochester’s perseverance, feature prominently in the design. “I think the installation is about 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, ”Yan explains.

As you walk through the doors of the Sloan Performing Arts Center, the mural appears above and a glitter of color grabs your attention as you walk towards 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 fresco’s design. (Photo by University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)

The discs are not flat on the wall; instead, they’re bent to reflect and shine 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 looks more like a light windmill,” Yan explains. Although the discs do not actually move, sunlight can deceive the eyes.

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,” Yan explains.

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

“Two Wall Mural” seen from the exterior of the Sloan Center on Wilson Boulevard at dusk. (Photo University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)


Read more

A man on a scooter rides past the exterior of the Sloan Performing Arts Center on a sunny day.Sloan Performing Arts Center opens on the River campus
The 30,000-square-foot performing arts space opened at the end of August, adding a highly anticipated new building to the University of Rochester’s River Campus in time for the fall semester . The building will be fully functional by the end of the calendar year.
Meliora 2021 written in red, white and blue next to the words Rewind.  Reunite.  To restart.  and the date.Meliora 2021, a new take on a popular fall weekend
The weekend of October 1 to 2 marks milestone meetings, celebrates the 2020 promotion and invites families to visit the campus. Special guests include Geena Davis as the opening speaker and Margaret Cho as the featured performer.

Key words: Allen Topolski, Arts and Sciences, Post Star, Performing Arts, Sloan Performing Arts Center

Category: Highlighted


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