Mosaic in New Bristol Public Library11.30.2005
Piece by Piece
Artist who was inspired by art in former library returning the favor
Story by David McGee
Photos by Andre Teague
BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
BRISTOL, Tenn. — As a child, Sherre Sullivan found inspiration in the artwork she saw hanging in the old Bristol Public Library.
Now a commercial artist and interior designer, Sullivan has been working to return the favor. She's spent the past three months designing and piecing together a mosaic to be installed in the new library. The work should be finished next month and the library, undergoing a $12.3 million expansion and renovation, should reopen in March 2006.
"I wanted to do something that was timeless and would include some architectural details of the building," Sullivan said.
Borrowing from the new building's semicircular-shaped windows and architectural lines that resemble rays of light, she's creating a 16-foot diameter, three-foot-wide circle titled "Celestial Patterns."
The mosaic depicts a galaxy, planets, a comet, a bird and other scenes. It will be installed around four fireplaces on the ground floor of the building's rotunda.
"The library is near Solar Hill, which once had an observatory, and the dome shape on the library looks like an observatory," Sullivan said.
Once finished, the mosaic will be taped together, cut into small sections, taken to the library and painstakingly reassembled. Workers will place the individually numbered pieces into mortar and use an olive-colored grout to finish the piece.
Sullivan has devoted 30 to 35 hours per week breaking tiles into small pieces and carefully arranging them by color and shape.
"I love the process, and I really hate to see it end," she said. "This is the third mosaic I've done, and it's easily the biggest."
Sullivan regularly monitors the library's progress from the windows of her third-floor workspace in the Antiques Unlimited building, and she sometimes walks over to photograph the construction.
She was awarded the work after making presentations to the library's arts committee and the board of trustees.
"I'm honored to be selected," she said. "They've been really supportive."
Art will enhance the beauty and value of the new library, Director Jud Barry said. "All along, the intention of this building was as a work of art ? and as a place where art can be honored," he said. "That's why there will be areas that lend themselves to art exhibits, and permanent artworks will be in and around the building."
The project should cost less than $15,000, with much of the money going to labor costs for installing the piece, Barry said.
Donations from private sources were dedicated specifically to fund such projects, he said.
Working in a State Street loft, artist Sherre Sullivan pieces together her latest project, a 16-foot diameter mosaic for the new Bristol library.
Sullivan has devoted 30-35 hours per week breaking tiles into small pieces and carefully arranging them by color and shape.