An art wall for STEM’s hall

Abby Zadrozny, Staff Writer

Upper St. Clair High School’s Art Department worked hard on a mosaic for the school this past February. The giant art piece that uses small tiles to create a larger picture now hangs near the entrance to the Nutrition Center.

Local artist Laura Jean McLaughlin designed the mosaic, which was inspired by drawings from students and faculty. McLaughlin is a professional artist. She sells her original pottery and works with schools and communities to build large mosaics.

McLaughlin said, “We’re trying to make a design that encompasses a little bit of all of the areas included.”
The mosaic is supposed to represent USC’s new STEM class. This class combines science, technology, engineering, and math to try and solve real-world problems.

Students in IB art and Ms. Smigel’s 11-12 ceramics class worked hard making, nipping, and gluing tiles to a large land and sea project.

McLaughlin says, “It’ll be a work of public art that’ll be in this school for many years to come, so they’ll be leaving a legacy of their own art.”

The process of making a mosaic starts with the design. Everyone in the class drew a picture of what they think of when they hear science, technology, engineering, and math. Laura Jean got a stack of papers that covered every spectrum. Her job was to design a mosaic that combined everyone’s ideas. The next step was drawing the design out on large boards and outlining it with watercolor paint.

Students had to “nip” tiles. This is when you use a tool called a nipper to cut tiles smaller. After nipping hundreds of tiles, the students began the long process of filling in the mosaic. It took a week with the help of visiting English and science classes, along with other faculty members.

The final step of creating this piece of art was grouting it. The grouting step is a messy process and left the art room covered in dust. After it was finished, the students really appreciated everyone’s hard work because the long process paid off.