Mosaic Project: Connecting the UCSF Community Through Art

Suzie Kirrane, Family Services manager with Campus Life Services, worked on the mosaic art project with her son Jasper Burgard, 6.

More than 60 volunteers turned out on a recent weekend to break up, lay down, and glue over 7,200 pieces of tile, mirrors, glass gems, and other materials to create an inspiring mosaic art piece at the pool area at Millberry Fitness & Recreation Center at the UCSF Parnassus campus.

This lively group of volunteers comprised of UCSF staff, students, retirees, and community neighbors created 128 square feet of mosaic art in 17 hours. The result is a colorful and cheerful permanent art installation, featuring sparkling panels of crabs, turtles, an octopus, and aquatic landscapes. More than art, the project inspired everyone to collaborate and make new connections.

More than 60 volunteers participated in the mosaic art project to create a permanent installation in the pool area at the UCSF Parnassus campus.

The art project started after the Visual Arts Club at UCSF sponsored a noontime artist talk when Wenia Lee, a mosaic artist and Education Coordinator for Department of Surgery at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, gave a presentation about her artwork. Gail Mametsuka, assistant director of Fitness & Recreation, attended the fall 2011 presentation and was inspired to bring mosaic art to the pool area at Millberry Union.  

“I am always looking for ideas that bring our campus community together in a fun way. I am inspired by the benefits of creating community art.  It's a wonderful process that fulfills a creative and social wellness component in our lives,” said Mametsuka. “The community mosaic mural required the talent and organizational skills of people who love art. We are lucky that we have all that at UCSF.” 

Through a collaborative effort, Mametsuka, Lee, Pilar Deer (Campus Life Services, Art & Events), and Sharon Freeman (Visual Arts Club at UCSF), hired Rachel Rodi, instructor for the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland, to design a large work of art to beautify the wall by the pool.

Members of the UCSF community can view the mosaic work from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12. Entry to the fitness center will be free to all UCSF employees during the open house.

“I pass by Millberry Union every day and doing a visible project that would impact the campus landscape appealed to me,” said Miriam Gonzalez-White, director of Clinical Operations and Revenue Management. “The shared sense of accomplishment looking at our work at the end of the session was very satisfying, knowing that we would be able to say we participated in creating something beautiful. I'm glad UCSF supports these ways for the UCSF and broader community to express our creativity and enhance our sense of belonging.”

For more information regarding campus art opportunities, please contact Pilar Deer.