DeSoto State Park has become an artists’ workshop for an exciting project that’s actively in the works. Earlier this year, DSP Naturalist Brittney Hughes conceived the idea of installing an ambitious public art project at DeSoto Falls—transforming the plain cement stairs leading to the viewing platform into a mosaic work of art.
Picture this: You’re standing at the bottom of the long flight of steps at DeSoto Falls, looking up to the top of the steps. On each of the 43 ‘risers’ is a mosaic of colorful stained glass pieces—each riser is a separate piece of art but seen collectively they create a design that is pleasing to the eye. Brittney’s design will feature the West Fork of Little River flowing down the length of the steps, and a famous John Muir quote in the middle of the design: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”~John Muir
The evolution of Brittney’s idea has been made possible thanks to the dedication of glass artists Linda Munoz & Jane Nuckolls, who have dedicated many hours to the planning, logistics, and execution of the project to date. Little River Arts Council has supported this project with a financial donation to purchase supplies, and Kay Stone from Auburn University’s Museum of Natural History has donated 20 boxes of scrap mosaic glass to the project. Stained glass artist Chuck Peters also donated glass towards the risers.
The step riser project will be done using the mesh technique, which will allow the project to be mobile so that anyone can get an opportunity to work on the design. A series of ‘design days’ will be planned this fall in different locations where the community is invited to work on the risers and inspire a sense of ‘ownership’ in the project. Participants of all ages can work on the project and will learn the process of cutting and attaching the glass safely.
The technique incorporates ‘tile mesh’, which is cut to the size of each riser (and no, none of the risers are the same size!) As the accompanying photos show, pieces of plywood have been cut to support the mesh and serve as the foundation for the glass work to proceed. The riser design is drawn on each board, plastic wrap is then lain on top of the wood, and the mesh taped down on top of the plastic. The mosaic glass will then be glued onto the mesh, and the plastic will allow the mesh to be removed from the board on installation day at DeSoto Falls. The mesh will be attached to each riser with mastic, and once dry will be grouted into place. We will install in the Spring once it gets warmer.
If you would like to be placed on the contact/volunteer list for this project email Brittney Hughes. If anyone would like to make a financial donation specifically to this project, contact the Little River Arts Council.
Photo gallery from work day on 9/12/2018
Photo gallery from Boom Days on 9/15/2018
Photo gallery from Design Day-Sept 26-Moon Lake Elementary
Photo gallery from Design Day-October 10-DeSoto's Nature Center
Photo gallery from Design Day-October 13-DeSoto Falls Picnic Area-DeSoto State Park
Examples of mosaic steps from around the world:
A tile mosaic project done on Birmingham-Southern College campus in 2018